How to craft a successful pitch – with a bit of psychology

By Seema Menon, Toastmasters International

As a business owner it’s imperative to keep working on your pitching skills, as you deal with the ongoing pressure of winning business and attracting new customers.

Here are my hard-earned tips for a successful pitch.

Begin with something different

By this I mean don’t launch straight into your pitch. Begin with a ‘dynamic change story’ (DCS). Use one of the prominent transformational disruptions that is happening in the client’s industry. Pick an attention grabber and alert the client that if these changes are not embraced, the firm will suffer.

Like a movie, the DCS must have excitement, intrigue, relevance and a little fear (if change is not adopted). With their undivided attention it is time to pitch.

Getting into the pitch

Go shopping when you’re hungry and you’ll project your present hunger on to the future and buy a lot of food. Projection bias is the human tendency to project current preferences onto future events. The idea of Dynamic Change Story is to create a projection bias within clients so that they’re hungry to hear more from you.

One idea

Most pitches deluge the client with themes and ideas. It’s necessary to discipline oneself to pitch a single enticing idea. This single idea must make a difference to the client and the pitcher must have this conviction.

Overcoming biases

Clients try to categorise the pitcher, the pitcher’s firm and pitcher’s products/services from the first moment. Human beings can categorize others in less than 150 milliseconds. Imagine how many ‘judgements’ they make during a 10-minute pitch!

Clients generally come to the meeting to validate their biases and are busy acquiring proof. Your pitch needs to overcome this and make it so enticing that the client will consider a new idea.

Answer why now?

The pitch must answer the key question; why should the client adopt the idea suggested “NOW”? What difference it will make to them and their business if they buy in right now – and why waiting would be a mistake.

The blackberg

The blackberg is the unseen iceberg that suddenly looms out of the darkness and scuppers you. It’s the risk, the market disrupter, that everyone is missing. Now suggest how the client’s business is going to suffer if they don’t embrace this and make the relevant changes you are suggesting.

All the senses

The client must be able to see, hear, smell, taste and touch your brand.

When pitching, attempt to engage the client’s five senses. This could be your visual slides, your own auditory speaking power and storytelling. If certain senses cannot be invoked because of the layout of your product/service, build examples into the pitch in such a manner that you can speak about it and through visualisation, the client is able to feel it

Keep the momentum going

It is important to maintain momentum throughout your pitch. If possible, leave questions to the end. Ensure you keep control of the pitch – and don’t let others side-track you and take you from your path. A good pitcher keeps retrieving the control despite the attempts, through questions, to alter its course.

Once the idea has been pitched, it needs to be emotionally enhanced to induce buying interest or a movement forward to the next phase of buying.

Ending the Pitch

Create a sense of urgency

Urgency precipitates action. It’s a persuader, so how do we create it? By getting the client excited and a little bit scared. Provide examples of businesses that are flourishing thanks to embracing your idea. Also give examples of organizations atrophying due to their indolence and delay.

Show how the client will benefit

You’re there to sell but do so with a spirit of giving. Show though your pitch that it is the client who is benefitting from the association. This way trust will blossom.

Heighten emotions

People buy emotionally and justify rationally. The end of the pitch must not make the client logical or rational, on the contrary it must build the emotional intensity of the client.

Use the tips to help you develop a successful pitch and make every opportunity you get work for you and your business.