In recent How To Sell and All Terrain Killer Closing Techniques series I promised to address the art and science of attracting business or closing without pitching. This blog, courtesy of Blair Enns, does that.
Summarized here, Enns' manifesto is available in two options above and below. Hover and click on the images. However, for artists new to my blog, it is probably advisable to start with either Part 1 or 2 of The Creative Process (From Art to Entrepreneurship). Whatever your specialty as an entrepreneur and digital marketer, getting the fundamentals right is critical for both meaningful and repeated success. Major mindset shifts are required. Which is why getting here took two separate Masterclass series.Successful advertising and branding agencies may be OK with just the feature video. But those on the road to strategic preeminence and/or true differentiation in any saturated market, amateur now or successful entrepreneur already, will mind the hyperlinked (and zoomable) large images and colored hypertexts here and beyond, —rich with resources. As they negotiate their way to the powerful multi-million, and billion dollar cold calling, cold email, and lead generation success mountain top.
I recently got a call just after 2:30 AM from a billionaire on the Forbes List interested in hiring me. It wasn't a cold call. But I'd been told days in advance by a successful entrepreneur and mentor he'd call me and have me speak to his billionaire friend. So to me, this was a cold call I absolutely had to nail.
Now, I could tell you I went to bed barely an hour prior after a 17-hour workday, was mentally exhausted, the connection was really bad as they were calling from a different continent, etc. Yet while I managed to secure a meeting, the fact of the matter is I bungled the call. I wasn't mentally crisp. My pitch wasn't exactly tight. I was as scattered as all but one of the callers speaking to Grant Cardone above. And like mobile device addicts who lack strong social skills when put on the spot, I wasn't exactly in the success zone either. Luckily, pressed for time, it was the billionaire who offered: “Let me fly you in at no cost whatsoever to you so we can talk face to face. OK?” Someone else would have moved on.
In sports, there's a difference between having command versus having control of your pitch. And what you want ideally is to graduate both to the point where your pitch differentiates you from the type of person that wastes phone minutes stating the obvious, plus annoying pleasantries like apologizing for a bad connection, how are you, etc. Hence Part 2 of this pacier, snarkier and meaner Masterclass Series, —going beyond Great Public Speaking, Presentation Delivery, Pitching and Traditional Sales.
Designed for millennials and the iGeneration, it complements the Successful Startup/Failure series, but also covers the waterfront. And is ideal for grinders, hustlers and entrepreneurs of all stripes, who aren't uptight. We're talking everything from street smart sales to brutal successful cold calling skills that neither college nor hanging out on Social Media can ever teach you. In fact, I have a friend in sales who spends her time surfing shopping and social media sites after work who recently told me — two months into a new job — that she hasn't had any sales. She also doesn't like Grant Cardone, and thinks he's too arrogant. Needless to say, who's failing now?I remember being rudely interrupted a while back by a mentally disturbed or socially challenged man who accused me of picking up women on the subway. Apparently because everything was happening too fast for him as I was deep in the zone closing prospects when he interrupted me.
See Part 1 for that story. But I've learned that advanced cold calling skills elevates one's ability to engage, take control and close. Every day is training day. And the sooner you drop that mobile device, get out of your shell, go out often not just for formulaic networking sessions but, master and graduate your cold calling game — which demands high responsiveness and great follow-up skills — the more at ease you are in adjusting your pitching game.
If you want to control your pitch, first master the basics of how to crack the interestingness code. For, as Albert Einstein famously said: “Only one who devotes himself to a cause with his whole strength and soul can be a true master. Because mastery demands all of a person.” Plus, the Grant Cardone above — whom trolls would have you believe “it's cocaine” RATHER THAN confidence reaped from thousands of hours of repetition, improvisation, failure, tweaking, practice — perfected his art, over years, DOING. I'm not perfect. Off days? Sure. But the goal is to perfect not just your pitching acumen but ultimately, how well you can CONNECT, and CLOSE. Would you agree?
The overarching goal here is to transition you away from one dimensional Presentation or Public Speaking guru or robot, if you will. Into a highly successful closer adept at using Advanced Communication Skills for positive impact anytime; anywhere. Plus we know there's countless, easily googleable online resource for crafting and delivering the best presentation and public speaking performances. However, if after exhausting Part I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII and this blog you still want more, simply contact me here, or here. It's more efficient than searching my feed or even following Presentation and Public Speaking experts who follow me, which is also a good idea. All images hyperlinked with additional material.
Dangerous pitching myths abound. And yet pitching done right is flawless influencing. Followed by decisive impact. And the keys include a great albeit balanced enthusiasm, a great attitude, a great product people want to buy or killer idea balanced with superb sense of urgency, plus a thick skin.
Long before I knew about cold calling, I cold called my way into my first corporate job at AT&T, which was created specifically for me. After 36 calls, all initially going into the HR Manager's voicemail, my delivery got tighter, more seamless, and with finesse. Until she picked up, expressing admiration for my “persistence” and chatting with me for 45minutes before inviting me in for what turned out to be an orientation. Not an interview! Proving Ben Schippers right: “Pitching is like dating. Being confident is key, but it also is your Achilles’ heel...if you try too hard, you’re going home empty-handed.”
Guy Kawasaki, with whom I don't always agree, rightly says: “Pitching isn’t only for raising money—it’s for reaching agreement, and agreement can yield many good outcomes including sales, partnerships, and new hires.”
Moreover pitching, highly persuasive presentation or influential public speaking experience that wows, closes, worked for me, and I've seen work for others, is almost always based on 3 key assumptions and elements. All reinforced by both Tim Ferriss (further below) and Mitch Joel with Peter Coughter previously in Art of The Pitch, on which this blog is based:
They don't have time. Not even for 10 slides. So, assume otherwise, at your own peril.The above infographic is well-meaning, but dangerously misleading. Take #2, for example. If you misread and miscalculate precisely how high the stakes are, or the tolerance level of stakeholders or whomever you're pitching.
You're not there to be funny. Unless you are the keynote speaker, or at a public speaking event that needs you more than you need them. Then, it makes sense to take liberties.
Otherwise, without being robotic, your first priority is to SHOW, connect and/but, respect their time. Likability does tend to take care of itself if you're an effective communicator, have a great product that sells itself with little to no help, and/or, you already have a track record.
In my worst pitch to date involving a panel of hungry investors and stakeholders who literally ran towards our hotel's restaurant in fear it was about to close, I was mercilessly rushed.
It was chaotic. Panelists were not completing their own questions and sentences as they interrupted me, and each other. I was there to pitch my “unfair advantage” but we never got that far.
And, no. It didn't matter that they'd been sitting through other — I'm told — horrible pitches all morning. That, although I was scheduled at 10AM, I was finally called in after 2:30PM. What mattered, and still matters, in retrospect, is (zoomable image below):I unnecessarily lost control of the presentation because I assumed for an organization seeking solutions they trusted I had, they had time. Not for 10, but my 5 slides. They didn't. Double click to zoom.The fact of the matter is, slides—as you may have inferred from this blog's audio feature—matter less these days. Everything mentioned above, especially the importance of knowing and articulating the competitive landscape relative to your pitch, is important. Even echoed by David S. Rose in this TED U Talk. But strategically, what matters more is understanding and perfecting the Art of the Pitch enough to know WHAT NOT to do WHEN.
Perfect ABC & AIDA down to a Science. Be able to sell. Anytime. On any terrain.
Why terrain? Short answer: The same reason the Chinese are excelling in Africa, business-wise, where American enterprises and entrepreneurs have failed.
Universally, people don't like being sold to. And importantly, spitting was irrelevant to why I was there in the first place.
We were there to negotiate. And my team needed his money.
Critically, what should be asked, emphasized and executed more if you're serious about winning, is: What influences THIS particular panel, person, or organization as opposed to the last one I/WE aced to get here?
DO that research well, beforehand! I promise you: it'll pay dividends.
With that preparatory work naturally internalized, it doesn't matter whether you're stumped on a sidewalk as Alex Blumberg was by Chris Sacca (here). Your answers can be seamlessly plucked from any of the slides (above). Like a Steve Jobs on a stage, not even needing slides.
And if you're a startup, SHOW or GIVE them what they want, whether they know it as prospective early adoptors/investors, or not — by surprising them with it — within 15 seconds of opening your pitch and let the idea or product sell itself. Why? Because the “A” in AIDA is your meal ticket to success.
After all, you want their attention and ultimately, money and backing, don't you?
This is why in the scenario above, the story/approach shared in How To Steal The Show would have been more appropriate. Precisely why, as Jonathan Gebauer and seasoned marketers and salespeople will tell you: “The perfect pitch is different every day.” Still, you MUSTPass the “So What” test. Win over both left and right brainers present by KO.
Even the great Elon Musk struggled to communicate effectively the first time he unveiled the Tesla Model X SUV concept. I tried. Never got through that video. Several months later however, he nailed it! And I saw great headlines in 2015 suggesting unanimous approval of his improved delivery.
So, like any skill, effective communication can be developed, with great effort. Which is we started this Masterclass series with Will Stephens in Cracking The Interestingness Code.
Apart from the importance of the emotional connection/resonance factor already repeatedly addressed, most investors, hiring managers and board level presentations and high stakes pitches are closed/won (over) simply because you're easy to understand. Plus, your conviction about the product/service you're offering and its “inevitability of success” you exude, matters.
That's why I love Guy Kawasaki's “little man” simplification of the McKinsian “What's the So What?” question. Because it's true. In fact, I was recently involved in a deal where the little man was literally a diminutive number cruncher one competitor approached me to crack a joke about. He started: “Did you also notice?” He'd nod off every now and then. Then as quickly as his head jerked up, he'd reflexively ask a “So what” question.
Now, “imagine there was a little man sitting on [your] shoulder. During presentations...the little man would whisper, “So what?” You should imagine this little man on your shoulder and listen to him because the significance of what you’re saying is not always self-evident, much less awe-inspiring. Every time you make a statement, imagine the little man asks his question.”
Leverage Tim Ferriss' insight and click the white dove below to continue your Masterclass. But whatever the venue or context, you want to go from, “Here's the thing” to: “Oh my God, I want that!” Or, “They loved you. They want you back!”