The way you introduce your business to people is the second most important factor in whether people buy from you or not. The first is the product or service itself. The pitch is secondary only to that, and everything else is a distant third at best. It doesn't matter how good whatever you're selling is if you can't convince people to buy it. That's why the salespeople in a company usually earn all the big bucks. Even salespeople need to get ideas from somewhere, though, which is why we're writing this article.
It's probably fair to say that selling to people is a lot harder now than it was twenty or thirty years ago. We're a generation who've grown up watching endless commercials on television, and we've seen even more of them on the internet. We know what a sales pitch looks like, and we have a tendency to blank them out when we see them. Millennials and Generation Z especially have developed an immunity to old-fashioned sales pitches, and that's a problem if you work in sales. On the other hand, that doesn't mean that your audience doesn't want to buy. There's a piece of business wisdom that says people hate to be sold to, but love to buy. Giving them the opportunity to buy without making them feel like they're being pushed into it is the job of a successful salesperson.
It’s impossible to pitch to someone without making them aware that you’re trying to sell to them, but you won’t be able to hold their attention for long. That’s why short, sharp pitches work best. You’ve all heard of the “elevator pitch” - a pitch that takes no longer than an elevator would take to go up or down a few floors - but even that’s an old idea. We want to give you a few ideas that take even less time than that.
We won’t pretend that these pitches are a guarantee of success. A lot depends on how you present them. Even more depends on whether the person you’re pitching to is interested in whatever you’re selling. Whenever you try one of these pitches, think of it as no more than a coin tossed into an online slots game. You know that not every single one of those coins is going to bring you success, but some of them will. The ratio might not be especially high - you can often go through several dozen spins with online slots before you win anything - but when success does come, it makes all the losses worthwhile. The same mechanics that persuade so many people to stick around and try their luck with online slots should also persuade you to work at these pitches until they pay off - so try them out and see what happens!
The Twitter Pitch
This one should be easy to understand for anyone who uses social media. Famously, Twitter gives you only 140 characters to get your message across. The brevity of the format forces (or should force) people to think very hard about what they want to say and how they say it. Write your ideal pitch down, and then trim all the unnecessary words out of it until it would fit within a tweet. That should boil down your message to what’s truly important about your product. Once you’ve done that, memorise it. If you can’t fit it within 140 characters, it’s probably not an essential part of your introduction. You can save the bigger details for after your Twitter pitch has gained a customer’s interest.
The Pointed Question
It ought to be possible to rephrase whatever information you want to give to your prospective customer into a question. Instead of saying, "Hi, my company significantly reduces the cost of processing mail," you should say, "Hi, would it be useful to your business if your mailing costs were significantly reduced?" The question forces a response from the customer and thus begins a conversation. When someone is forced to answer in the positive ("yes, it would help"), they should psychologically be more open to discussing things further.
The Movie Pitch
You might sometimes see this technique referred to as “The Pixar Pitch” because it suits the narrative of every film the company has ever made. The story goes like this. One day, someone needed something. Every day they looked for it. One day a solution came along. Because of the solution, their situation improved. Because their lives improved, they improved as people. In the end, they became successful. You turn your pitch into a short story about how you’ve provided solutions to people or companies who needed them, and those people or companies are now in an immeasurably better place because of it. Keep it broad and general, and people will be drawn in by the story.
Pitch A Subject Line
We all get too many emails. It's a bane of modern life. We can't be expected to read them all, so how do we choose which to open and which to ignore? Most of the time, it comes down to the subject line. If the subject line arouses our interest, we'll click on it. If it doesn't, we hit the delete button. That's why subject lines are so important when you're composing marketing emails. They should either be mysterious and alluring, or hyper-specific and of obvious value. Which subject lines work best for your marketing emails? Could they be turned into a pitch? If so, that's the sentence you should use when you hand over your business card.
Make It Rhyme
Humans are charmingly simple creatures who like to pretend they're more complicated than they are. Childish things still amuse us, and sentences that rhyme never fail. We're far more likely to remember something that rhymes than something that doesn't, which is why you can remember all of the words to your favourite songs as a teenager but can't recall the entire dialogue of your favourite movie. It's even been suggested that we're more likely to believe a statement that rhymes. Coming up with a rhyming pitch might feel childish, but who cares about that when it leads to a boost in your revenue?
All, none, or some of these pitch ideas might work for you. You won’t know until you try them out. Come up with one or two options for each of them, use them next time you get the opportunity, and develop a new short-form pitching strategy from there!