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Life’s A Pitch!

Life’s A Pitch! By Mariette Edwards Whether it's a job interview, a movie script or convincing your investors their faith in you is well placed, life’s a pitch. But are you getting the results you want from every pitch you make? "I hate the idea of selling", an aspiring author told me recently. "If getting my books published means I have to sell, I'm going to rethink my goal." This author's opinion about sales is quite common. Many creative people feel that “sales” is a dirty word. But substitute the word "pitch" and suddenly the process takes on new meaning. When you are pitching, it’s personal, it's important; it's compelling and persuasive. You become powerful, agile, heroic, a champion. You've got passion. You've got heart. You're on fire! Pitch vs. Sell What makes the process of “pitching” so much more attractive than “selling”? It’s simply your emotional, visceral, non-thinking connection to the idea of it. And therein lies the secret to every perfect pitch. Connection is the secret Connection is the secret to delivering the perfect pitch. And, connection can happen in an instant. Consider this five-word pitch Steven Seagal made in presenting his idea for the movie, “Under Siege”: “Die Hard” on a boat. Short and yet it contains all the essential elements of the perfect pitch, Seagal created a vivid image his audience (the money people) could immediately connect with. It hit them where they live—in their pocketbook. “Die Hard” was a big money maker. Using that title in his pitch created a compelling image. Tying his concept to a proven winner and one that could easily be “seen” hitched his pitch to a star. Of course, the idea had to be a good one but in the end, is it any wonder he got the money? What does this have to do with your job interview, investor meeting or the promotion you want? Every perfect pitch has the same six connecting points the "Under Siege" pitch had. Here’s how to use them to launch your star. Six key connecting points to delivering the perfect pitch 1. Know and leverage what your audience wants. I met an ad exec recently that had just pitched a concept for an on-line ad campaign. He knew going in that the client was concerned about the size of his agency but he didn’t factor that into his pitch. He went to the pitch alone and left feeling the next presenter (with four colleagues) showed up as a larger P. O. Box 293, Alpharetta, GA 30009-0293 / t: 770.751.9672 / f: 770.751.1410 www.doyourgreatwork.com / operthedoor@doyourgreatwork.com


Life’s A Pitch!

and more stable company. He could have easily done the same thing. Instead, he spent the pitch trying to convince his audience that his business was bigger than just himself (which it was). The client never heard the rest of his pitch because they were so focused on their key issue. He knew his audience but he didn’t use what he knew and so he never connected. 2. Your opportunity for delivering the perfect pitch is hidden in the gap between where your audience is now and where it wants to be. Ask BIG questions to uncover that gap, and then use what you learn to focus your pitch on what your audience really wants. 3. Frame your pitch in terms of results. People buy results. Pitch your background, experience, vision, concept or idea in terms of the results you have produced or in a way that incorporates a result that matches your audience’s objectives. Shift your point of view to see the pitch from the other side. What’s most important to them? For example, a landscape designer who wants to move into a new career in environmental advocacy pitched the results she achieved in fund raising and citizen advocacy as two connecting points with her target audience. Research the problems and challenges the company or industry is facing and the trends that are impacting their business, then craft questions that showcase how much you know and understand the economic climate and that suggest you are the right person to fill their gap. You can uncover a lot by asking this simple question: “If I were to be hired for this position, what would you want me to accomplish in my first 90 days?” (You can download a list of ten questions to ask on your next interview from the Free Resources page on the Star Maker web site at www.starmakercoaching.com.) 4. Create vivid images. Make your pitch come alive with vivid images that stir the senses and build an emotional connection. The broader the range of sensory involvement you create, the more connection you will make. Put your audience in the pictures you paint by using the three elements of every good story: setting, situation and solution. Practice your stories until you can tell them with confidence and ease, inserting them effortlessly where they can enhance your message. 5. Keep it short and sweet. Resist the temptation to say too much. Talking too much breaks the connection. Instead, focus on creating short easy-to-remember sound bites that convey key concepts while stirring an emotional response. Spend time on developing an opening that captures your audience’s attention and rivets them on the rest of your pitch. That doesn’t mean you have to come in singing and dancing. A stunning statistic or a heart-warming quote can be very effective. Leave plenty of space for audience comments, questions, and reactions. 6. Pitch when people are ready to buy. Timing really is everything. If you have the solution to a problem you know your audience has, that’s a great time to schedule a pitch. Timing can also mean time of day, day of week, time of year. Pay attention to the cues your audience gives you about timing so you can use them to maximize your results.

P. O. Box 293, Alpharetta, GA 30009-0293 / t: 770.751.9672 / f: 770.751.1410 www.doyourgreatwork.com / operthedoor@doyourgreatwork.com


Life’s A Pitch!

ARE YOU A MAJOR LEAGUE PITCHER? Connection is the key to creating the perfect pitch. That connection only happens when you are communicating with your target audience. To become a major league pitcher, become a better communicator. Start by assessing your communications skills. Directions: On a scale of 1-10 with one being low and ten being high, rate yourself on the following? ___

How well do you come across? (How would others describe your communications style?)

___

How well do you listen? (How well do you hear what is being said and not said?)

___

How well are you understood? (How well do you phrase and articulate your thoughts or concerns?)

___

How well do you choose topics to talk about? (In conversation, how appropriate are the topics you talk about most?)

___

How well do you converse? (How well do you have fluid, two-way conversations?)

___

How believable are you? (How authentic is what you say?

___

How positive are you? (How do you make people feel about themselves?)

___

How do you affect others? (What impressions do you leave with others?)

___

How effectively do you communicate? (How easily does your communication cause the results you intend?)

___

How aware are you? (How sensitive are you to the communication process?)

If your communications skills aren’t what you’d like them to be, resolve right now to do what it takes to become a perfect “10”. Knowledge is power! The more you know about pitching to win, the better your chances for achieving your goals. ### Mariette Edwards: Career Choreography for High Achieving Creatives, Mavericks and Key Players Up To Big Things. For more on how to perfect your pitch, visit her web site at www.doyourgreatwork.com. ©Copyright 2004-2012 Mariette Edwards All rights reserved P. O. Box 293, Alpharetta, GA 30009-0293 / t: 770.751.9672 / f: 770.751.1410 www.doyourgreatwork.com / operthedoor@doyourgreatwork.com


Questions Are The Answer To Building The Perfect Pitch!

Questions Are The Answer To Building The Perfect Pitch! By Mariette Edwards You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions. -Mahfouz Naguib

He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever. -Chinese Proverb

The important thing is to not stop questioning. -Albert Einstein

Questions are essential tools for building your pitch Questions are a critical part of your pitch building process. It is through questions that you will uncover what is most important to your audience. Whether it's a job interviewer, a client prospect, an investor group or even your boss, adding questions to your pitch toolbox will help you position your pitch to best meet your target's needs and objectives. Where is the gap? The goal of your questions is always to identify the gap. The gap is the space between where your audience is right now and where it wants to be. The gap is where all your opportunity is. Let's say you are pitching a new client on your services. It's tempting to launch into a monologue about what you can do but if you don't know what your client is looking for you could be pitching them on things that don't matter or will keep you from closing the deal. Values are important too Once you have identified the gap, move on to questions that will reveal what your audience values. Values questions like, "What is most important to you in a relationship with your service providers?" tell you how to manage the business when you get it but also can guide you in how you present your pitch. Knowing what the client values gives you a chance to build that in from the beginning. Questions 101 While there are many ways to ask a question, there are really only two types of questions. These are: •

Close-ended questions, also known as directive questions: These questions call for a yes/no answer. “Have you filled the position yet?” is a question that requires a yes/no answer. Yes/no questions can be useful but won't give you the whole picture. P. O. Box 293, Alpharetta, GA 30009-0293 / t: 770.751.9672 / f: 770.751.1410 www.doyourgreatwork.com / operthedoor@doyourgreatwork.com


Questions Are The Answer To Building The Perfect Pitch!

Open-ended or non-directive questions: These questions expand the possibilities for a response. Questions that ask who, what, when, where, why and how are open-ended. For example, “What qualities are you looking for in candidates for this position?” will tell you quite a bit about how to present your qualifications to address what the company views as important. Open-ended questions also communicate more about your level of interest in your audience.

What do you want to know? Your questions will depend on what you want to know. Here are a few things your questions could uncover. • • • • • •

Is this my ideal client, job opportunity or project? Am I talking to the decision maker or is that someone else? How urgent is it? What is the timeframe? What criteria will be used to make a decision? What is most important to the relationship? What is the desired outcome? How will success be measured?

Systems make the strategic use of questions automatic The problem with questions is, in your excitement, you may often forget to ask them. That won't happen if you build them into a system for responding to opportunity. For example, if you get new business inquiries by telephone, you could create a system for gathering information you can keep near the phone. In my business, I created a series of pre-printed forms. The first is for the initial contact and conversation, the second is for enrolling a new client and the third is for capturing billing data. Each builds in sequenced questions I want to be sure I always ask like . . . • • •

How did you hear about my services? What is most important to you in your selection process? If we were to work together, how would you measure the return on your investment?

A few final thoughts on questions Here are a few things to remember as you begin to add questions to your pitch building toolbox. •

Cultivate curiosity. A sincere interest in what your audience wants is a very attractive quality. Questions like, "I'm curious about how you started your company" or "I'm curious about what influenced your decision to change vendors" rivets attention on your audience and communicates your desire to understand the world from their point of view. Know when to stop talking. Just ask your question and wait. Don't fill up the silence. Let the silence pull the answer. Some people take longer than others to respond. You may be the first vendor or applicant to have taken the time to ask that. Give the other person time to frame a response.

P. O. Box 293, Alpharetta, GA 30009-0293 / t: 770.751.9672 / f: 770.751.1410 www.doyourgreatwork.com / operthedoor@doyourgreatwork.com


Questions Are The Answer To Building The Perfect Pitch!

• •

Know what you are looking for in a client, business opportunity, investor, or job. Don't be afraid to be very specific with yourself about what you want. Craft your questions to determine the degree of match between what you want and what is presented. Prepare your questions in advance. One or two opening questions will get the conversation flowing and help direct your inquiry. Create a script you can easily refer to. Scripts work very well on the phone but you can use them in face to face meetings too. In fact, a series of questions that are presented in a systematic way can say alot about you as a professional. Follow where the answers lead you. Get off your script if the answers are taking you into new territory. You could uncover more opportunity than you first imagined.

Knowledge is power! The more you know about how to craft questions that uncover meaningful information, the more focused and targeted your pitch will be. ### Mariette Edwards: Career Choreography for High Achieving Creatives, Mavericks and Key Players Up To Big Things. For more on how to perfect your pitch, visit her web site at www.doyourgreatwork.com. ©Copyright 2004-2012 Mariette Edwards All rights reserved

P. O. Box 293, Alpharetta, GA 30009-0293 / t: 770.751.9672 / f: 770.751.1410 www.doyourgreatwork.com / operthedoor@doyourgreatwork.com


Sign Language Learn How to Send and Read Signals to Deliver the Perfect Pitch

Sign Language Learn How to Send and Read Signals to Deliver the Perfect Pitch! By Mariette Edwards His socks compelled one's attention without losing one's respect. -Saki (Hector Hugh Munro)

A startling discovery Back in the day when I was in Human Resources I made a startling discovery. Interviewing hundreds (thousands, even) of candidates who worked hard to show me their best side, there was often something about them that revealed the truth. These little truths were obvious to me but the candidates probably never noticed how much they revealed about themselves. I remember one young lady who was interviewing for the position of Sales Assistant for the brokerage firm where I was HR director. She was wearing a very conservative grey pin striped suit with a conservative haircut, briefcase and shoes. She looked great, the picture of the perfect applicant for our ultra conservative firm but I knew that wasn't who she really was. How? In her zeal to project the right image, she couldn't resist adding just a touch of her authentic self in the large rhinestone earrings with the dangles that screamed something else entirely. We all do it. We just have to express ourselves and we somehow believe no one will notice. My startling discovery? Believe the aberration, the thing that doesn't work. It is the best evidence of who the other person really is. So what does this have to do with perfecting your pitch? Two things. First, be sure your image is completely consistent and communicates what you want others to believe about you and notice the little things about the people you are pitching to. The devil really is in the details, so pay attention! The Quentin Tarantino Effect In Hollywood, much is made of the ultra-creative and his (or her) value to the profitability of the project. Quentin Tarantino is a perfect example. His hat-on-backwards, quirky look screamed creative, so much so that today it is almost a clichĂŠ among filmmakers. It certainly added to his mystique as an extraordinary filmmaker as he was coming up in that world. Now, I'm not telling you to go to your pitch as Bozo the Clown or to steal your look from someone else, but it pays to use everything you've got to communicate your value. For example, a television producer I work with was having trouble being taken seriously when pitching her show ideas. After talking the problem over with an image consultant, she was advised to select one item of clothing that would say quite clearly CREATIVE and POWER to her audience. That item? Why, shoes of course! She bought a pair of pointy red shoes that made her feel brilliant, powerful and confident. They said the same thing to the people she was pitching to. But remember, a new pair of shoes or a hat-on-backwards may be cool but nothing can overcome a poorly thought out concept or idea, so don't expect an expensive accessory to do your work for you. It's only icing on what we hope is a very good cake. P. O. Box 293, Alpharetta, GA 30009-0293 / t: 770.751.9672 / f: 770.751.1410 www.doyourgreatwork.com / operthedoor@doyourgreatwork.com


Sign Language Learn How to Send and Read Signals to Deliver the Perfect Pitch

Every little movement has a meaning of its own Once you get past the clothing issues, there are two things to be on the lookout for--body language and gestures and territorial space and positioning. What's important when reading body language and gestures is that they are relevant only when they change. Watch for changes in body language that come in response to what is going on. For example, if someone you are pitching is wearing glasses, note that looking over the glasses can indicate disbelief or disapproval. Repeatedly cleaning glasses signals that person may want more time to think. But once that person lays his glasses on the table, he is telling you he is no longer listening. I remember pitching to a group of venture capitalists a few years ago. The product I was describing was a very ambitious environmental aerial imaging system. Unfortunately, it was not a project aligned with this group's investment objectives, which their body language made abundantly clear just a few minutes into my pitch. Give them space! Have you ever had someone get right in your face as he made his point? If you found yourself backing away, it's because we all have a comfort zone that feels violated when people we don't have a relationship with or know very well crowd into our space. It is also true that different cultures have their own unique perspectives on space. Be well prepared for any situation. If you are pitching to people from different backgrounds or parts of the world, learn how space is used in their cultures. Where you place yourself in the room also affects both the perceptions of the other parties present and the flow of information. Here are a few things to remember. •

• • •

Avoid sitting between two people you are pitching to otherwise it will be difficult to observe them. Sit where you can see them both. Let them sit first. Put yourself on the other side. When dealing with groups, split up seating to break up their power. Two people sitting together are seen as one person. If there are two or more of you pitching, split up to have more voices. Your size vs. the size of the other person. Step back or sideways to reduce the effect of overpowering the other person.

Knowledge is power! The more you know about how you and others communicate through clothing, gestures, body language and use of space, the more powerful the connection with your audience will be. ### Mariette Edwards: Career Choreography for High Achieving Creatives, Mavericks and Key Players Up To Big Things. For more on how to perfect your pitch, visit her web site at www.doyourgreatwork.com. ©Copyright 2004-2012 Mariette Edwards All rights reserved. P. O. Box 293, Alpharetta, GA 30009-0293 / t: 770.751.9672 / f: 770.751.1410 www.doyourgreatwork.com / operthedoor@doyourgreatwork.com


Sign Language Learn How to Send and Read Signals to Deliver the Perfect Pitch

First Impressions At-A-Glance The decisions people make about you depend on the messages you send. That message is a combination of factors including clothing style and color, body language, eye contact, jewelry, accessories, and voice. Every part of your presentation sends a message. What is your message? ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏

Adventurous Ambitious Analytical Cautious Center of attention Colorful Complicated Conforming Conscientious Conservative Convincing Cooperative Creative Critical Curious Detail-oriented Dominant Down-to-earth Efficient Emotional Energetic Experimental Expressive Frank Friendly Generous Hands-on worker Helpful Honest Humble Idealistic Imaginative Impractical Impulsive Independent Innovative Insightful

❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏

Intellectual Introverted Intuitive Inventive Kind Leader Methodical Meticulous Modest Natural Non-conforming Obedient Open-minded Optimistic Orderly Original Persistent Persuasive Pleasure-seeking Popular Practical Precise Rational Reserved Responsible Sable Self-confident Self-controlled Service-oriented Shy Skilled Sociable Structured Tactful Theoretical Understanding Unimaginative

P. O. Box 293, Alpharetta, GA 30009-0293 / t: 770.751.9672 / f: 770.751.1410 www.doyourgreatwork.com / operthedoor@doyourgreatwork.com


Can You Hear Me Now? Pitch to the Way People Listen to Get Your Message Heard

Can You Hear Me Now? Pitch to the Way People Listen to Get Your Message Heard By Mariette Edwards Make sure you have finished speaking before your audience has finished listening! -Dorothy Sarnoff

Listening is at the heart of every perfect pitch. If you're not talking so other people can hear you, you will never get your message across. Have you ever noticed how people look when they are really listening? Leaning forward, eyes locked on the speaker, nodding or gesturing as each point is made, people who are listening are working hard and you can see it. But, what about the part of the listening process you can't see? Your audience is processing what you are saying faster than you are speaking. Research shows that most people talk at a rate of 135 to 150 words per minute but can listen and process information at 400 words per minute or faster with some experts saying the number could be as high as thousands of words per minute. When you add that to the fact that we retain on average only 25% of what we hear, that 75% is lost, you're looking at a communication chasm that can seriously affect the impact of your message. No wonder sound bites have become ubiquitous in our culture! So what's happening in the transmission gap between how fast you are speaking and how fast your audience is listening? Lots of things, many of them having nothing to do with your agenda. What's happening as your audience listens? •

They're deciding if they want to listen. Make sure your physical appearance, your presentation materials, the setting and timing of your pitch maximize your target's attention. Don't give them any excuses to wander away in their mind.

They are wrestling with or giving in to distractions. Even the mind of the most intent listener will wander from time to time. In fact, studies say to keep your listener's attention, it's useful to do something that brings their focus back to you every five to seven minutes.

They are following you or getting lost. Make it easy for your audience to follow what you are saying by organizing your material into key concepts, points, or ideas. Re-cap each section and check for understanding with a few well-placed questions.

They are having an emotional reaction, good, bad or indifferent. Incorporating stories and impactful images can swing your audience's mood in the direction you want to take them. P. O. Box 293, Alpharetta, GA 30009-0293 / t: 770.751.9672 / f: 770.751.1410 www.doyourgreatwork.com / operthedoor@doyourgreatwork.com


Can You Hear Me Now? Pitch to the Way People Listen to Get Your Message Heard

They are making judgments. We all do it—judge on small bits of information and subtle cues. Be aware of how every aspect of your presentation can influence the judgments your audience is making.

They are interrupting you in their mind with questions or arguments for or against. Build in answers to unasked questions as you go.

They are closed or open to your message. Watch for body language cues. They will tell you how well you are connecting.

They are gauging how much they need to listen vs. how much they have to listen. When you need to listen, what's being said takes on dramatically more importance. Raise your target's listening urgency by making your message personal and vitally important to him. This is where your own listening skills kick in. Ask big questions about your target's wants and needs and tie your pitch to that.

They are forming conclusions. They may have even formed a conclusion way before you have presented all the information they need to draw that conclusion. Make sure your pitch leads them to the conclusion you want them to make.

Knowledge is power! The more you know about how people listen, the more impact your pitch will have. ### Mariette Edwards: Career Choreography for High Achieving Creatives, Mavericks and Key Players Up To Big Things. For more on how to perfect your pitch, visit her web site at www.doyourgreatwork.com. ©Copyright 2004-2012 Mariette Edwards All rights reserved.

P. O. Box 293, Alpharetta, GA 30009-0293 / t: 770.751.9672 / f: 770.751.1410 www.doyourgreatwork.com / operthedoor@doyourgreatwork.com


Can You Hear Me Now? Pitch to the Way People Listen to Get Your Message Heard

What Happens As Others Listen At-A-Glance Research shows that most people talk at a rate of 135 to 150 words per minute but can listen and process information at 400 words per minute or faster with some experts saying the number could be as high as thousands of words per minute. Here is what listeners are doing with all that extra time while you are talking. They're deciding if they want to listen. Make sure your physical appearance, your presentation materials, the setting and timing of your communication maximizes your listener’s attention. Don't give your listener’s mind any excuse to wander. They are wrestling with or giving in to distractions. Even the mind of the most intent listener will wander from time to time. In fact, studies say to keep your listener's attention, it's useful to do something that brings their focus back to you every five to seven minutes. They are following you or getting lost. Make it easy for others to follow what you are saying by organizing your material into key concepts, points, or ideas. Re-cap each section and check for understanding with a few well-placed questions. They are having an emotional reaction, good, bad or indifferent. Incorporating stories and high impact visual images can swing your listener’s mood in the direction you want it to go. They are making judgments. We all do it—judge on small bits of information and subtle cues. Be aware of how every aspect of how you present yourself can influence the judgments your listener is making. They are interrupting you in their mind with questions or arguments for or against. Build in answers to unasked questions as you go. They are closed or open to your message. Watch for body language cues. They will tell you how well you are connecting. They are gauging how much they need to listen vs. how much they have to listen. When you need to listen, what's being said takes on dramatically more importance. Raise listening urgency by making your message personal and vitally important to the listener. This is where your own listening skills add impact. Ask big questions about your client’s wants and needs and tie what you say to that. They are forming conclusions. They may have even formed a conclusion before you have presented all the information they need to draw that conclusion. Make sure you lead them to the conclusion you want them to make. ©Copyright 2004-2012 Mariette Edwards All rights reserved. P. O. Box 293, Alpharetta, GA 30009-0293 / t: 770.751.9672 / f: 770.751.1410 www.doyourgreatwork.com / operthedoor@doyourgreatwork.com


Living Up To Your Pitch

Living Up To Your Pitch By Mariette Edwards I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody. -Bill Cosby

Returning to my car after a meeting recently I found a business card stuck on the window. It was placed there, I'm guessing, by someone who noticed my STARMKR license plate. On it were two words: "Prove it!" On the other side were a color headshot and an outrageous description of this person's talents. Whether he meant his challenge to be taken seriously or not, I don't know but his self-descriptors were so over the top that only Mozart and Sir Laurence Olivier could live up to what he claimed. While this is an extreme example of overselling, it got me thinking about how often we find ourselves promising more than we can deliver in the hopes it will win us the job or the money we're pitching for. Show. Don't tell. A TV producer recently asked me to help him with a new program pitch. As he got started pitching me on the show, I noticed he often repeated words like "unique" and "different" but the pitch itself was sketchy on what the show was about. Dropping those adjectives in favor of a precise description of his idea moved the pitch from telling to showing and dramatically improved his impact. It's often tempting to overstate the value of what you do in the hopes of persuading someone else to buy from you. In the example, my client believed his idea was unique and different but only by creating a vivid word picture that communicated the essence of his concept would "unique" and "different" be truly expressed. Don't assume anything. That brings up another issue in preparing your pitch. What if my client's prospect wasn't interested in "unique" and "different"? What if the prospect wanted something that matched his audience's demographic of say, just for the sake of argument, conservative and predictable? It's far better to sell what your prospect wants to buy. Knowing what that is will make your pitch connect faster and better and you won't have to worry about living up to something your prospect doesn't care about. What your customer really wants. Customerss want four things when they buy from you. •

They want to trust that you can do what you say you can do, on time, accurately and with enthusiasm. In other words, they want you to prove that hiring/buying from you was a good decision. P. O. Box 293, Alpharetta, GA 30009-0293 / t: 770.751.9672 / f: 770.751.1410 www.doyourgreatwork.com / operthedoor@doyourgreatwork.com


Living Up To Your Pitch

They want you to know your stuff but more importantly, they want you to know what's important to them. A study of the customer’s products, services, business goals and strategies, marketplace, competition, history, culture and cost structure, politics and obstacles will position you to better deliver on your pitch.

Customers want your open-minded objectivity which simply means they want you to honor their point of view and respect their input.

And finally, customers want you to anticipate their needs and initiate a solution. If you keep these customer must-haves in mind as you go about fulfilling your pitch, your customer will love you for it and you will more than live up to what you said you would do.

What are you pitching for? • • • • • • • •

New job? New business? Raise? Promotion? Your boss's buy-in? Venture capital? Movie or TV deal? Your heart's desire or something else?

It doesn't matter what you are pitching for, you will increase your chances for successfully delivering on your promise by making sure your pitch is clear, doable and targeted to achieve what your customer really wants. Knowledge is power! Undersell what you can and will do and your customer will be dazzled when you over-deliver on your winning pitch. ### Mariette Edwards: Career Choreography for High Achieving Creatives, Mavericks and Key Players Up To Big Things. For more on how to perfect your pitch, visit her web site at www.doyourgreatwork.com. ©Copyright 2004-2012 Mariette Edwards All rights reserved.

P. O. Box 293, Alpharetta, GA 30009-0293 / t: 770.751.9672 / f: 770.751.1410 www.doyourgreatwork.com / operthedoor@doyourgreatwork.com


Living Up To Your Pitch

What Your Customer Really Wants At-A-Glance Your customers want four things when they buy from you. •

TRUST. Your customers want to trust that you can do what you say you can do, on time, accurately and with enthusiasm. In other words, they want you to prove that hiring/buying from you was a good decision.

KNOWLEDGE. They want you to know your stuff but more importantly, they want you to know what's important to them. A study of the client's products, services, business goals and strategies, marketplace, competition, history, culture and cost structure, politics and obstacles will position you to better deliver on your pitch.

OBJECTIVITY. Customers want your open-minded objectivity which simply means they want you to honor their point of view and respect their input.

ANTICIPATE & INITIATE. And finally, customers want you to anticipate their needs and initiate a solution.

If you keep these customer must-haves in mind as you go about fulfilling your pitch, your customer will love you for it and you will more than live up to what you said you would do. ©Copyright 2004-2012 Mariette Edwards All rights reserved.

P. O. Box 293, Alpharetta, GA 30009-0293 / t: 770.751.9672 / f: 770.751.1410 www.doyourgreatwork.com / operthedoor@doyourgreatwork.com


Ouch! What Can You Do When Your Pitch Goes Wrong?

Ouch! What Can You Do When Your Pitch Goes Wrong? By Mariette Edwards I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed. - Michael Jordan A few months ago I received a call from a commercial director in L.A. One of the top guys in the world in his field, he was not satisfied with his pitch-to-purchase conversion ratio. In fact, his pitching wasn't scoring the business he wanted more often than not and his self-confidence was taking a serious blow. Whatever the problem was, it certainly wasn't his skill as a director. His reputation for delivering his client's vision was stellar. So what was keeping him from turning every pitch into a winner? The same thing that may be keeping you from achieving the results you want--preparation! Preparation is the secret to perfecting your pitch! Even major league pitchers like my client get off their game at times. Getting his edge back meant doing the right things to prepare. You can too. •

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Do your homework. Learn as much as you can about your target market and the players you will be pitching to. What are they looking for and what are they buying? How do they take pitches—telephone, email, in person? Look for others who have pitched these same markets and buyers. What did they learn from their experience? What would they have done differently? Set an intention. What is your pitch intended to do? Be clear about that to stay on track. Flesh out your ideas. Ideas, even great ones, are not enough. You must develop your ideas so you can talk about them with confidence and a deep understanding of how they will serve your buyer, advertiser or audience. Outline the project, step-by-step, point-bypoint, episode-by-episode or scene-by-scene. Be prepared to talk about the price tag or budget. If it's an idea for television, beware of only one good idea, however. A client who is CEO of her own television production company told me recently that she has observed people pitching that are so caught up in their one idea that they fail to read their audience. “ It's more like an obsession than a pitch” she says, “and that can be a little scary. I believe network execs appreciate enthusiasm, but fear obsession.” I'd say that is universally true so ask yourself if you fit that description and what you will do to correct it. Test your concept. If you are pitching an idea, try it out on a few discerning professionals in your industry. Encourage tough questions. Be prepared to adjust your concept to make it more pitch-able. P. O. Box 293, Alpharetta, GA 30009-0293 / t: 770.751.9672 / f: 770.751.1410 www.doyourgreatwork.com / operthedoor@doyourgreatwork.com


Ouch! What Can You Do When Your Pitch Goes Wrong?

• •

Craft good questions. Questions are a subtle yet powerful way to set yourself apart. An on-line advertising CEO was pitching a client prospect recently. We choreographed the pitch to focus on the client at a specific moment by asking a question that engaged him in a conversation and made the pitch relevant to his specific goals. Tell compelling stories. Stories connect. Build short stories (three sentences or less) to communicate your results. (For more on how to tell your story, download my article, "Sell Results to Sell Yourself" in the Free Resources section on my web site.) Focus on your audience. It's natural to want to talk about yourself but it is more attractive to show interest in your audience. Make your stories, examples, case studies or experience relevant to what your target wants to accomplish. Don't assume people know how valuable you are. You may be the best IT person on the planet, but unless you learn how to communicate that, your interview results may be disappointing. Polish your presentation skills. The fear of public speaking stops many people from becoming more effective not only in formal presentation settings but in their daily communications as well. Doing is the only antidote for overcoming fear. Exercise flexibility. Be prepared to move with vs. against whatever the pitch situation calls for. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice your pitch out loud. That was something my director client avoided. He thought he could handle the pitch just by thinking about it. Once he started practicing out loud, he could hear where the holes were and fill them in. It was one of the most important things he did to change his results. Try your pitch out on colleagues and friends. Dig up the dirt on pitch horror stories. Be prepared to pitch under adverse conditions to people who may be distracted, disinterested or hostile. Make your hypothetical scenarios range from very, very good to the worst you can imagine. Roleplay until you can handle yourself in tough situations.

Bottom line? Plan for success by preparing for it and pretty soon you will be pitching like they do in the big leagues. Knowledge is power! Learning from your mistakes is the best education you can get. ### Mariette Edwards: Career Choreography for High Achieving Creatives, Mavericks and Key Players Up To Big Things. For more on how to perfect your pitch, visit her web site at www.doyourgreatwork.com. ©Copyright 2004-2012 Mariette Edwards All rights reserved.

P. O. Box 293, Alpharetta, GA 30009-0293 / t: 770.751.9672 / f: 770.751.1410 www.doyourgreatwork.com / operthedoor@doyourgreatwork.com


Ouch! What Can You Do When Your Pitch Goes Wrong?

Pitch Planner What is the situation?

Who are the players and what do they want?

What do you want?

ŠCopyright 2004-2012 Mariette Edwards All rights reserved. P. O. Box 293, Alpharetta, GA 30009-0293 / t: 770.751.9672 / f: 770.751.1410 www.doyourgreatwork.com / operthedoor@doyourgreatwork.com


YOU Are The Pitch!

YOU Are The Pitch By Mariette Edwards Communication is the secret to success in business. As an owner, partner, executive or leader, selling your board, your investors, your staff and your customers on your vision and values is one of the most important things you will ever do. But what is your audience really buying when you pitch? And more importantly, what can you do to increase your chances that they will buy? People want to do business with, they want to work for, they want to follow, people they believe in, know and trust. They want, in short, to do business with people they like. Your significant business others are not buying a pitch, they are buying you. In other words, YOU are the pitch. Take Steve Jobs, for example. Did you buy what he was selling? Millions upon millions of iPhone users did (and continue to). And, Wall Street certainly did. Early rumors of his ill-health briefly sent Apple stock on a downward run. Why? Steve Jobs was Apple. Steve Jobs was the pitch! Let’s look at what that means and what lessons we can all take from his success. First, Steve Jobs was authentic. When he strode onto the MacWorld stage each year in his signature black shirt, worn blue jeans and white sneakers, he was totally in synch with who he was and to whom he was speaking. If he were wearing a suit, would you have believed him then? I’d say, “Probably not.” There’s nothing off about the way he looked before he ever started speaking. That leads us to the second important element of his pitch. He was congruent. Everything worked. Nothing about what he said or did took you out of the magic. Nothing distracted you from his message. Third, he was crystal clear about his vision and fourth, he was passionate in the way he expressed it. He drew you right into the world he wanted you to play in. And that is the fifth and most important element. He knew how to connect with his customers, his investors and his employees. He knew what his customers and investors wanted. Steve Jobs was masterful at giving his customers what they had only dreamed of while at the same time talking ROI in sufficient detail to keep Wall Street optimistic about the company’s prospects. He built his people into his presentation, too, mentioning many by name. He was clearly proud of everyone that worked there. Who didn’t want to buy from this guy? In short, Steve Jobs was the five most important parts of any pitch—authenticity, congruency, passion, clarity and connection. Benjamin Franklin said that, “If you would persuade, you must appeal to interest rather than intellect.” Leveraging “interest” is the heart and soul of every successful pitch. And even if you pour authenticity, congruency, passion and clarity into the situation, without appealing to your “buyer’s” interest, you will never create connection. It will always be all about you. P. O. Box 293, Alpharetta, GA 30009-0293 / t: 770.751.9672 / f: 770.751.1410 www.doyourgreatwork.com / operthedoor@doyourgreatwork.com


YOU Are The Pitch!

Webster's defines “interest” as both “a sense of concern with and curiosity about someone or something” and “the power of attracting or holding one's attention.” When you are concerned and curious about someone or something, it naturally shifts your focus away from what you want and places it where it belongs-on what your buyer, partner, customer, or investor wants. You may have a great idea, an important new product or a sure-fire solution to your client’s biggest problem but if your pitch doesn't appeal to what is most important to your buyer, you won't get buy-in. One of the biggest mistakes I see people make when they are in a pitch situation whether it’s with a client, a prospect, a job interview or a meeting with investors is that they make the event all about themselves. So even if you think you know what the problem is, it's absolutely critical to match your take on the situation with your buyer's. In a recent pitch workshop, one of the participants was showing us how she pitched the managing partner on an idea for a new way to produce the company newsletter. Her pitch was based on what he asked for so she was frustrated and disappointed when he did not buy into her solution. A closer look at how she positioned her pitch revealed that she had omitted any reference to his original objectives. Instead, she had skewed the pitch toward the glamour of her problem-solving creative idea, making the pitch more about her creativity than the partner’s goals. She threw everything she had at the pitch but missed the most essential element. Getting back to our Steve Jobs model, here are five ways to build connection into every pitch you make. 1. Know and leverage what your buyer wants. Your opportunity for delivering the perfect pitch is hidden in the gap between where your buyer is now and where he or she wants to be. Ask BIG questions to uncover that gap. An ad exec I spoke with recently had just pitched a concept for an on-line ad campaign. He knew going in that the client was concerned about the size of his agency but he didn’t factor that into his pitch. He went to the pitch alone and left feeling the next presenter (with four colleagues) showed up as a larger and more stable company. He could have easily done the same thing. Instead, he spent the pitch trying to convince his prospect that his business was bigger than just himself (which it was). The client never heard the rest of his pitch because they were so focused on their key issue. He knew his audience but he didn’t use what he knew and so he never connected. 2. Frame your pitch in terms of results. People buy results. Pitch your background, experience, vision, concept or idea in terms of the results you have produced or in a way that incorporates a result that matches your buyer’s objectives. Shift your point of view to see the pitch from the other side. What’s most important to them? For example, a landscape designer who wanted to move into a new career in environmental advocacy pitched the results she achieved in fund raising and citizen advocacy as two connecting points with her target audience. 3. Create vivid images. Make your pitch come alive with vivid images that stir the senses and build an emotional connection. The broader the range of sensory involvement you P. O. Box 293, Alpharetta, GA 30009-0293 / t: 770.751.9672 / f: 770.751.1410 www.doyourgreatwork.com / operthedoor@doyourgreatwork.com


YOU Are The Pitch!

create, the more connection you will make. When Steve Jobs rolled out the iPhone last year, he not only had a giant image on a screen that everyone could see, he had an actual working iPhone in his hand that he used to show each feature and function. Not only could you see how easy it was to use, but by holding it, the audience got a sense of its actual size and, I suspect, could almost feel it in their own hands, too. 4. Keep it short and sweet. Resist the temptation to say too much. Talking too much breaks the connection. Instead, focus on creating short easy-to-remember sound bites that convey key concepts while stirring an emotional response. 5. Pitch when people are ready to buy. Timing really is everything. If you have the solution to a problem your buyer has, that’s a great time to schedule a pitch. Timing can also mean time of day, day of week, time of year. Pay attention to the cues your buyer gives you about timing so you can use them to maximize your results. Knowledge is power! You are the pitch and it is your authenticity, congruency, clarity, passion and connection that will make buying YOU an easy decision. ### Mariette Edwards: Career Choreography for High Achieving Creatives, Mavericks and Key Players Up To Big Things. For more on how to perfect your pitch, visit her web site at www.doyourgreatwork.com. ŠCopyright 2004-2012 Mariette Edwards All rights reserved

P. O. Box 293, Alpharetta, GA 30009-0293 / t: 770.751.9672 / f: 770.751.1410 www.doyourgreatwork.com / operthedoor@doyourgreatwork.com


Pitching Your Great Work  

How to Sell Decision Makers on You or Your Idea By Mariette Edwards

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