How Don Wettrick of StartEdUp Teaches Life-Changing Innovation Secrets to High School Students
“Draw a line down the center of the paper,” said Mr. Brown.
We were on the third hour of back and forth and Brown wasn’t ready to let go without pulling out all the stops.
“Now on the left side of the paper, write ‘Reasons For,’ and on the right side, write the word ‘Reasons Against,’” Brown said. This was the first time I had ever been sold anything in a one-on-one situation. But even I knew the “Ben Franklin” close.
I’ve seen a lot of pitches since then. It’s surprising how many make the same mistakes—especially because they’re so easily avoided.
We’ve all had bad days, or even found ourselves in a rut. So, do a quick self check on these common “salesy” pitch habits:
Slow down, Sparky. We appreciate your enthusiasm, but we can’t understand what you’re talking about, no matter how wide you open your eyes or how broad make your gestures.
When you give your pitch, you’re going to get a shot of adrenaline. And that jolt can be your friend or your worst enemy.
Stay calm. You need to be enthusiastic about your business, but you also need to make good decisions (and stay coherent) during your pitch. A few deep breaths before your next pitch may do the trick. But if you’re really amped up, you may want to try a quick meditation.
Even if you have only 2 minutes. Research has shown that you communicate better and make better decisions when you’re calm. And meditation has been proven to decrease stress and maintain a calm, confident mindset.
Have you ever had someone impress you with their industry vocabulary or clever sales phrases?
Yeah, me neither.
When you really know your industry and product, it’s easy to get carried away. But using big words or jargon makes it difficult to make a genuine connection.
At the same time, clichés and overused phrases are an easy (and did I mention, ineffective?) fallback strategy. Unless you’re making a joke, don’t ever use any of the following:
I could go on, but you get the point. Bottom line: People do business with people. Pitch accordingly.
You’ve hooked the audience’s attention. You built intrigue and demonstrated the value of your business. Now bring us home.
I’m sure you’ve done research on your audience (right?), so craft a concise, actionable ask for the end of your pitch. When you deliver your specific request—this could be a sale, funding, a referral, etc.—remind your audience why they will benefit.
Then, shut up.
If you keep talking, you’ll lose your audience. So, give your audience the opportunity to help you.
If you’re using slides, leave your contact information presented for all to see. If you’re presenting to a large audience, keep yourself extremely visible to the room and open to starting new conversations. Book a specific next step and make sure you have a way to contact your new friend (grab their business card).
Hopefully, I gave you some “Reasons Against” being too eager or robotic during your pitches. And when you nail your “Reasons For” during the ask of your next pitch, there is one thing of which I’m certain…
Ben Franklin would be proud.