Are you trying to convince your boss to develop a new product or implement your strategies for growth, but can’t get him or her to listen?
Would you like to introduce a new system to your team – one you are certain would bring many benefits – but you can’t get their buy-in?
Do you come into contact with prospective buyers/clients but aren’t sure how to effectively sell to them without coming across as pushy?
No matter where we sit in the company structure, we all share ideas with someone else with the aim of being persuasive and well received. We have a goal, but we need someone else’s receptivity or action to achieve it.
No matter how great our idea, how needed our improvement, or how much of a deal our product is, we must successfully overcome the communication challenge known as “the pitch.”
Facilitating Your “Pitch”
Here are a few guidelines to follow when pitching a product or idea:
- Get really clear on what you’re offering, and why. – If you can’t explain it clearly and concisely, odds are they won’t get it. Distill your idea into a singular, “sticky” statement that covers what it is, and what its benefits are. Use that statement towards the beginning of your pitch.
- Be conversational. – You want to connect with your audience, so even if you are standing in a boardroom with PowerPoint slides behind you, your pitch should feel more like a conversation than a presentation. Consider telling a story as you explain your idea – stories are memorable and hook into our emotions.
- Ask questions. – Interacting with your audience is key to keeping them engaged, and questions involve them in your pitch. If you meet with someone individually, like a client or your boss, be sure to listen as much as you speak. If you’re presenting to a group, invite questions at key stages during the presentation. Ask about their initial reaction or hesitations, ask if they’ve had experience with something similar. Make them feel heard. And realize what you hear can help you tailor your pitch on the fly.
- Focus on helping rather than selling. – Make it your goal to serve your audience. Identify what your audience needs (be that your boss, team or clients) and seek to show them how you or your idea can meet their needs. Don’t assume they have the same needs or goals you have. Don’t assume they have a felt need for what you’re pitching – some needs we feel, others we are blind to. Even if this pitch isn’t green-lighted, if you’re perceived as helpful, you’ll have future opportunities to pitch.
- Be contagious. – Remember that emotion can be contagious, so let your passion or your conviction shine through as you pitch. Present with energy and humble confidence. If you don’t appear to “feel it,” your audience isn’t likely to either.
If we sincerely seek to be helpful, present a clear and compelling case, and engage the audience and listen to them, our pitch will be much more likely to land on receptive ears. Plus, we’ll open the door to dialogue about our idea – effectively turning our audience into our collaborative partners.
Here’s a terrific video on how to pitch anything in 15 seconds by Carmine Gallon at Forbes.com.
If you’d like to discover how to specifically communicate so that your boss or employees will listen, have your team take the Forte Communication Profile Survey. This can show you each person’s individual preferences for how they like to receive information and make decisions. Call us at 910-452-5152.
Forte Institute member Rachel Olsen is on faculty in the Communication Studies department at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. She is a communication specialist, and a trained and certified coach.