Being a specialist in a particular area will only ever get you so far. It’s
the ability to explain, in simple terms, your specialism to a range of different
individuals and groups that will set you apart from the pack.
Whether you are pitching to a client or trying to persuade the board to
commit to more spending, it’s like parachute jumping. You only have one chance
to get it right.
Like many people, I’ve had to sit through far too many turgid pitches.
Selling is an art and to lessen the chance of you making any fundamental
mistakes when pitching, just bear these tips in mind.
Know what you are selling. If you don’t know, nor will your audience. Then
think about their motives and perspective. How will your suggestion benefit
them? Achieve this and you are more likely to achieve the result you want.
Try to build your pitch around a basic argument, and don’t be tempted to
include too many different ideas. You want your audience to remember exactly
what your pitch was, and why it was so compelling. They need to grasp the
essence of what you are selling, fast. We Brits can be particularly poor in
communicating what we are asking someone to do, think or feel.
Never has it been more important in our information-saturated world to be
able to find simple ways to encapsulate complex information. Remember to keep
what you say to a minimum. Also tighten up your pitch by ditching unnecessary
detail and cutting the jargon. Less is more.
Your pitch needs to include rational arguments and create emotional
commitment. Great orators from history generally didn’t start their speeches by
appealing to our rational side. If you are selling your services to a client,
use stories and anecdotes to demonstrate the quality of your work. If you need
to use complex data, keep it as simple as you can.
Always conclude your pitch with a couple of simple reasons why your audience
should take up your idea. To coin a phrase, a good pitcher paints a thousand
Mark McCartney is an associate director at Grayling
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