I’m often asked if I can do the pitch for my clients.
I can’t – for 2 reasons.
1. I don’t know your product. It will be quicker to teach you to present than to teach me about your product.
2. The potential client wants to see you as the leader.
If you can’t stand in front of your client and speak to them about what you are selling to them they wont have the confidence that you can fulfill the contract.
Your ability to speak is the essence of your leadership. If you’re at the front of the room and cant lead then you’re an impostor.
You’re the best person to pitch your ideas. If this scares you, juts install the training.
I recently drove from Adelaide to Melbourne.
The first sign out of town said I had 756km to go. I mentally calculated how long this would take.
After 20 minutes there was another sign – 722km to go.
I kept looking for these signs to know that everything was on track.
Clients do this when your pitching to them. Tell them that you can solve their problems, and then sign post it all the way through your pitch. It will keep them engaged.
When selling your idea there is usually only a small area of common ground between you and the person you are selling too. Rarely is this common ground understood as the same thing.
You might be selling legal services but the customer is buying peace of mind.
You might sell bridge engineering but the customer is buying smoother traffic flows.
If you know that the customer is going to buy a different version of what your selling, change your pitch to sell what they want to buy.
The competition who keeps beating you is doing this.
When you stand at the front of the room and share your message you are being judged.
The audience wants to know:
1. Can I trust this person?
2. Do they believe what they are saying?
3. Are they confident in their message?
4. Are they a leader?
If you don’t get a favorable judgement to these questions you will be seen as an impostor and not someone who can fulfill the clients contract.
If you do happen to jag the contract you will be in a weakened position until you change their first impression of you. This weakened position often means your in a partnershaft not a partnership.
In most tender pitches, an average hopeful contractor stands before the decision makers and will do one of 2 things:
1. Re-present the highlights of their tender documents – as though the audience has not read them*
2. Go all salesy. They try and sell you the benefits of choosing them over anyone else.
Those that stand out take a different approach. They take an educational approach to their pitch. Instead of selling or repeating the tender documents they set out to educate their audience. They use an educational structure, educational techniques and deliver from an educational perspective.
This has 3 advantages:
1. They are not like everyone else
2. The audience doesn’t feel sold to
3. and it positions them as an authority in the partnership.
With your next pitch aim to educate and not to sell.
*The best example that you see of this is when you see the speaker introduce themselves to the audience – even when they have been speaking about the pitch for 12 months!
The tender cycle has three stages, each with their own objective. Unfortunately most that make it to stage 3 answer the final question the wrong way and miss out.
Stage 1 – Request for tender.
This is about the cut. Cut out those who are not qualified to complete the project. This reduces work.
Stage 2 – Tender Docs
The client is looking for suppliers that they can consider for the project and excluding those that are not good enough. As such, suppliers put forward all the reasons they should not be excluded.
Stage 3 – The Pitch.
The pitch is about a reason to choose – why should they choose you over someone else? Unfortunately most suppliers simply re-present their tender docs which are reasons to not be excluded – not reasons to be chosen.
This is not what the decision makers are looking for.
Despite the bad wrap it gets, Jargon* is an essential part of the workplace. Without it communication would take far too long.
There are three objectives of Jargon:
Objective 1 – Define the tribe
Those who are part of the tribe understand the jargon. If your not part of the tribe you don’t need to understand the message. The converse of this is true too. If you don’t understand the jargon you’re not part of the tribe.
Objective 2 – Increase the speed
A good TLA^ will reduce the time to deliver your message. OH&S is much quicker and easier to say than Occupational Health and Safety.
Objective 3 – Deliver the message.
Every community and culture has a language that is unique to them. Its Jargon are the agreed words that community uses to share their message.
The problem with Jargon is usually found around the defining of who is in the tribe. Fix how you induct people into the tribe and you’ll fix the problem of jargon**.
*Jargon and Management speak are different things. Management speak are cliches and motherhood statements that sound impressive and don’t mean anything when examined. (e.g. we must be efficient and effective!) Management Speak is to be avoided at all times.
^TLA – Three letter acronym.
**I once worked for a government department who issued an edict that we were to eliminate jargon from the workplace. After trying for 30 minutes we gave up on it. It was just to hard to communicate.
We have all seen the election pitch that we don’t believe.
The politician is lying. They know they are lying; we know they are lying; they know we know they are lying, but they keep on talking hoping that we believe their lie.
We pick up on the subtle queues that give them away – poor eye contact, fidgeting, stumbling over words. These are only slight and on their own do not mean much, but taken together we spot the
It doesn’t matter how big the lie is either. It is the dissonance of what they are saying and what they
know that gives them away.
When pitching, your client will pick up on your stretching of the truth, brushing over and the ‘Lets hope they don’t ask’ situations. We spot it in job interviews and politicians alike.
If the pitch is not right for you* then you either need to change the pitch or the person delivering it. The audience will pick up on it.
*you could be the person or company.
Your presentation skills are irrelevant*….until you have a boring message.
When your message is boring, does not make sense or is not convincing, people then look to your presentation skills and see that they are not up to scratch.
Many pitches have been lost because the message was not clear and poor presentation skills took the wrap for it.
As the presenter of the pitch it is up to you to have a crystal clear message that resonates with your audience. Then polish your presentation skills so you stand out.
You’re always being judged in a pitch. It’s important to understand what you’re being judged upon.
*It may seem unusual that a presentation skills expert would say this. That’s why my training is focused on how your audience hears your message – and not how you deliver it.
Despite thousands of years of trying, we are not able to predict the future of non-standard events with any certainty. I’m pretty confident that the sun will rise on December 1, but over the same time frame we have no reliable way to predict what the price of petrol will be.
It’s the same when sharing an idea, pitching for a contract or selling your services. We have no logical way to know what will be happening 12 months from now. We hope we know, we trick ourselves into thinking we know but we do not. No one does. Any belief that we have is based solely in emotions – not logic.
Pitching therefore cannot rely on logic to win. You must elicit emotions if you want to get across the line first.
Would love your thoughts on this.