The 5 Things You Need For A Successful Pitch
CB Barthlow, Director of Development – Shop Marketing & Creative Group
Last week I spent a few days on the East Coast with my colleagues from #TheShop. We were invited to a major brand’s international headquarters to pitch our concepts and, ultimately, ourselves. Imagine that; a fresh, young, boutique agency waltzing into a market leader’s office to take a swing for the fences.
Pitching can be terrifying, and the truth is, you’re either made for it or you hate it! I’ve been involved in at least 100 pitches in my career and have learned a few tricks to help me succeed in any room, with any audience. Below are the 5 things you need for a successful pitch.
Technology: You really don’t need technology to do well when pitching, last week I made a damn sandwich (hello analog). What you do need, is a clear understanding of how the technology you do use works and a plan for when it doesn’t. Nothing guarantees your failure better than you fumbling around with your dongle or asking the potential client, “Where can I stick this?”. Whatever technology you’re going to use, master it or leave it at your office.
Object: Former U.S. Senator Bob Dole was injured in WWII, leaving his right arm and hand paralyzed. During public appearances, Dole keeps a pen in his right hand to make it less noticeable. I’m hoping your war wounds don’t play out in business meetings, but I bet you have a physical tick that can be distracting. I used to run my fingers through my hair, but maybe you clap after every sentence or smack or drum the table with your fingers, whatever it is… STOP. Get an object, like a pen, card, or microphone. I don’t care what it is, but hold on to it and stop that tick!
Idea: The bottom line is you can’t sell something you’re not sold on! If you don’t love the product, the service, or the idea you’re trying to sell, it will show and you will fail. Besides, why would you ever want to sell something you don’t believe in? Passion is probably the most important part of every pitch and if you don’t have it, stop now. Get an idea. Get something you believe in and make believers out of others.
Someone to Toss To: If you’ve watched a good news team, you’ve notice something incredible. They work off each other, feed off each other and when they’re good, the transitions are seamless. If you can, always pitch with a partner, and make sure you practice together. Get your transitions down, learn how your partner thinks and take turns. If you pitch alone, make a friend. Find someone in your audience you can relate to and when you need breaks in your pitch, toss to them. Get them involved and for God’s sake, let someone else talk.
An Exit: If you’ve ever known a police officer personally, you’ll know they always know where the exit is, you should too. Not physically, who cares where the door is, I mean conversationally. You need to know how you’re going to end and when to make your exit. Whatever you do, don’t labor through your final ask or fumble through 3 rounds of handshakes or goodbyes. It’s better to ghost on the meeting than to be asked to leave. If the party starts when cool people arrive, then a pitch meeting ends when you depart. So finish what you want to say, and leave with them wanting more.