Whether you want to admit it or not, as an entrepreneur, you’re in the business of sales. You’re constantly selling to customers, investors, even your employees, on the idea that your company is viable and your products worthy of being purchased.
That’s why the book, Pitch Anything: An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading, and Winning the Deal by Oren Klaff, is relevant to you.
Klaff knows a thing or two about how to pitch. As Director of Capital Markets for investment bank Intersection Capital, he’s got a long scorecard of helping businesses raise tens of millions of dollars from investors. He’s given and witnessed pitches. He has identified key strategies for helping anyone — whether you’re raising money or just trying to win over a client — give a more successful pitch.
Getting Into the Psyche of Your Buyer
Too many people, says Klaff, focus on talking too much about themselves, delivering endless pitches and generally ignoring what their audience wants to know.
In Pitch Anything, he talks about the “crocodile brain,” which is the primitive part of the brain your target uses to react to your pitch initially.
The croc brain is picky and a cognitive miser. Its primary interest is survival. It doesn’t like to do a lot of work and is high maintenance when it is forced to perform. It requires concrete evidence — presented simply in black and white — to make a decision. Minor points of differentiation don’t interest it. And this is the brain to which you are pitching.
Klaff provides strategies for appealing to this croc brain using the acronym STRONG:
- Set the frame
- Tell the story
- Reveal the intrigue
- Offer the prize
- Nail the hookpoint
- Get the deal
You’ll have to read the book to learn more about each of these phases, but here are my big takeaways:
- Keep your pitch to 20 minutes. If that seems impossible, you’re overinflating your own worth to your audience. You should be able to succinctly explain your “big idea” in 5 minutes.
- Don’t dive too deeply into the technical. You want to bait your audience and get them interested. Later they’ll have questions about the details.
- Own the room. Klaff talks about framing, which essentially is having the upper hand in a given situation. If your audience is late or not paying attention, command respect. Leave if you have to.
Who Should Read this Book
If you are a startup looking for investors, this book is heavily geared for you. I’m not seeking funding and I still learned plenty from this book.
If you’re like me and dread sales meetings and pitches, you’ll gain some great strategies in this book that you can put into play immediately.
Great review, Susan. You pitched it well. 🙂 I certainly agree with the 20 minute rule. In many instances, less is more, and spending too much time on the pitch will actually make your audience tune out.
If it can’t be said in 20 minutes, it’s not worth pitching, eh? Thanks for reading, Stephanie.
Also, first impression counts and being able to succinctly explain your “big idea” in 5 minutes helps a big deal. Most successful sales people are able to pitch well. Great review, Susan.
This is a topic that I could not learn enough of. Marketing will always be a continuous learning endeavor. The great thing about it is once you learn how to do it, you’ll be able to sell anything. This will not only help you in your own business but can also do wonders for your company.
Agreed, Aira. I’m not a startup looking to pitch, but found plenty of great advice in the book.