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SALES

How to Sell: Improve Your Pitch
 

The first few minutes of a pitch meeting are crucial. So how are you spending them? And how is the other person reacting?

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Like it or hate it, you wind up pitching your company on a regular basis–to customers, to partners, to the press and more. The first few minutes of a pitch meeting are crucial: You have to find a way to quickly frame your solution. So how are you spending them? And how is the other person reacting?

The more you know about the brain, the better you can deliver your message effectively. Here are a few techniques you can use to improve your pitch and land the sale–or deal, or story–based on the way your prospect's brain is reacting to your pitch.

Use the Crocodile Brain

When you meet someone for the first time, you don't react with a mathematical, linguistic or decision-maker mind. Your first reactions to a new person or idea are usually those of a crocodile brain: Should I eat it? Should I mate with it? Or should I kill it? That's a decision maker's natural reaction to new ideas.

The mind likes things that have high contrasts and simplicity. New ideas have to be fast and visual; they can't be abstract. So if you want to make the mind of a buyer or investor comfortable, the information you're presenting has to be fast, simple, visual, and with high contrast.

Stop the Song & Dance

The most common and difficult challenge in selling is that the decision maker seems to have all the power. It's this concept of the "prize." To win the "prize" (the order, the investment, whatever) you have to put on a little performance to impress the buyer. This used to be the framework for sales and it was not particularly effective.

There's a way to get your swagger back. Let's change the framework: You, the sales person, are the prize and the buyer needs to win your attention. So you walk in, give a five- to eight-minute pitch–say, for an investment–and then instead of groveling you say, "OK, we're both quite busy, but I want to hear from you: What kind of investor are you? Why are you good to work with? What kinds of deals have you invested in before?"

It's an incredibly effective way to communicate to an investor or buyer: This is about both parties jointly deciding to work together.

Make a Buyer Want You

The difference between "want" and "like" is based on "hot" vs. "cold" cognition. A hot cognitive process feeds on emotion; it's the "want" behind what you do. A cold cognition is based on an information-based decision matrix. Take your spouse or partner: You probably chose that person based on hot cognitions, rather than cold ones. You wanted to marry that person; you didn't sit down and analyze a decision matrix first.

To the degree you can create want through hot cognitions, or a hot emotional process, you will get orders and sales and raise money and get what you need. Obviously you need to follow up that emotional response with information, facts, credibility and certainty, but you can still do that in a hot narrative. When you enter cold cognition or analytical frameworks, however, it can become more difficult to land the sale.

This column is based on a conversation with Oren Klaff, author of Pitch Anything. You can also click for the full interview recording.

IMAGE: iStock
Last updated: Feb 7, 2012

Author, speaker, and consultant TOM SEARCY is the foremost expert in large account sales. With Hunt Big Sales, he has helped clients land more than $5 billion in new sales. Click to get Searcy's weekly tips, or to learn more about Hunt Big Sales.
@tomsearcy




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