How to Be Less Sucky With Your Pitch
Posted by: Dan Palmer
For the second time in as many days, I have been witness to, or victim of, the used car salesman assault. I'm sure we have all experienced a pushy sales pitch, but on a car lot, you're there to buy a car, so there are some basic questions that have already been answered, such as "are you interested in the product that I am selling?"
Not so in my recent (mis)adventures: Two gentlemen were pitching "change management" to a colleague of mine, who happens to work for a rapidly growing startup. They physically boxed him in like a basketball double team and went through their pitch in rapid-fire. "They were the best", "they could guide effective changes", "just ask this guy whom you don't know". My friend was polite about the ordeal, but clearly not interested, and made multiple attempts to cut the conversation short.
Does his startup need "change management"? Maybe. Should you be pitching whose job description has little to do with making strategic, business-wide decisions? Probably not. Those two guys are not getting back in the door, regardless of how effective they are at their trade.
Not everyone wants or needs your product, or they're not in the position to make that decision. Spending a few minutes to figure out whom you're talking to would have saved a bunch of time.
Yesterday, I was the unfortunate soul to bear the onslaught. The guy was likable, animated, and clearly passionate about his startup - all good signs. But this guy just kept talking... and talking... and talking. His idea was intriguing, and when I asked an open-ended question about how he was handling online security, he said "Yup," and just continued on with his pitch. I spit a few more questions his way, and while he would acknowledge I had made some audible sounds, the questions were ignored.
I was genuinely interested in hearing the pitch when it started, but if you're going to give me a 15-minute recitation, I would rather focus my attention elsewhere.
Engage your audience. Answering questions is far more effective than giving a pre-canned speech.