How to Pitch?
The #1 strategy for success is simple and very effective. Make you Audience Care.
What’s Wrong with the Pitch?
How many pitches have you heard/read in the last six months? How many of those do you remember?
One? Two? None? Why so few, if even any? What was wrong with the pitch?
This is the question that kicked off our workshop recently on how to move beyond the standard ‘pitch’ and engage your audience.
According to the participants, here’s what was wrong with the standard pitch and needed fixing. Almost all the pitches were too long, complex, confusing, jargon-filled, boring, predictable, general, self-promotional … They all agreed that they were completely indifferent to what was being pitched because it didn’t matter to them.
How to pitch?
We could answer the question, How to Pitch?, with a quick cheat-sheet that addresses some of the above issues, e.g. boring, confusing, etc. It’s been done – hundreds of times. It’s time to stop pruning the leaves and do a root and branch job that will not only make real improvements, but will also create a pitch template. To get to that place where your audience cares, let’s start with with a simple and effective strategy to improve a ‘bad’ pitch.
To make your audience care about your pitch it has to be engaging for them. And the way to engage your audience is to make your pitch about THEM – not you, as I’ve already talked about. It’s simple and here’s how you do that.
Your Pitch Should be a Dialogue
The answer the question, How to Pitch?, is to make your pitch a dialogue between you and your audience – instead of the conventional monologue-pitch. Forget the sales pitch! It repels an audience because they’ve heard it before and they’re looking for an alternative to the sales pitch, as I pointed out here.
Here’s an example of the typical monologue-pitch. It start something like this: “Hi, I’m Jack/Jill. I’m a Business Consultant/Financial Advisor/ Life Coach … with 5/6/7/ years experience…
And the monologue continues by being way too general and supplying irrelevant details about you and your service or product.
The Golden Rule: The simplest way to create a dialogue with the people you want to reach is to talk to them about what they care about – themselves!
Start with the audience not with you. Let them know you know who they are, what they struggle with, what their goals are and how you are going to help them solve that problem/reach that goal. The rules for a successful pitch apply to all forms of audience interaction, from in- house to virtual presentations – it’s about creating a relationship, not a sales opportunity. My advice about making presentations interactive also applies to your pitch.
The #1 Strategy
The #1 strategy for a successful pitch is have them respond 3 times with “Yes!”.
The beginning of any successful conversation is to make it easy for people to know that you are talking to them. So call them by their name! Not their personal first name, but the name they use to define themselves in business. Instead of using a generic term, e.g. business owner, coaches, professionals, working women, etc. name your niche, (one niche per pitch), e.g. career coaches, working women over 40 stuck on the career ladder, service-based micro-business owners, etc.
1. Can they say, “Yes, that’s me!”? If so, you’ve got their attention and they are responding – silently.
But audience attention is a fleeting phenomenon.
You now need to move beyond grabbing their attention to engaging them.
What’s the most effective way to engage your audience?
Describe a challenge they know they have in their own words. Dump the jargon, the hype, the buzz-words. Have you listened to how they describe their problems? Use those words instead of your fancy phrases – if you want your words to resonate. How do they describe the problem of not being able to find enough customers, or the right customers, or to get their offers right, etc.
2. If they can respond to your description with “Yes, that’s my problem right now!”, you’re gaining trust.
Now take it a step further and pull them into a deeper dialogue with you and describe the consequences of these problems, i.e. where it hurts exactly. Have they cash-flow issues because they can’t find enough clients, or is their business stagnating because they don’t have a business plan, etc.?
3. Can they respond to your description with, “Yes, that’s what this problem is costing me!”? If so, you have engaged them in your pitch because they can easily recognise themselves in it.
Can you now provide them with a way forward?
Once you have elicited “Yes!” three times from your audience, it’s now time to go for the bonus “Yes!”. That will make them want to know more about you and connect with you post-pitch.
For example, you have developed a state-of-the-art data base system or a new app, etc., that you know could solve the challenges they face right now. Avoid a self-promotional monologue about your product here. No one (except you) is interested in the technical specifics right now. Tell them instead how your system/app will solve THEIR problem, e.g. increase sales, make it easier to find better clients, improve automation efficiency by 50%, etc.
If they can say, “Yes, I want to hear more about that!”, your made that post-pitch connection.
And when they follow up, remember it’s because you talked to them about what matters to them in a way that showed them tht you know their problems and you can provide them with the next step. Build on that.
Don’t ruin it now by turning the conversation into a monologue!
A Final Word on How to Pitch
Times are changing. Your pitch is also part of your message, your tagline, your website headline, your sales letter introduction, your profile text, etc. It’s on all your social media content. it’s an important work-in-progress until you get it right.Learn More