Marc Gill's business is BIG DOG DRTV Services. He's a worldwide ambassador for Ronco, the source of the Pocket Fisherman, Ready Grill, cutlery set, and many more products--the company that actually created the phrase, "But wait! There's more!"

But ask Gill what he is and he'll tell you "pitchman." He's sold professionally under challenging circumstances for 25 years. That means door-to-door, standing in front of crowds at trade shows, getting people interested enough in what he's offering that they'll reach into the pockets, pull out their wallets, and hand him money. He's long since moved to television, where he's a regular on the Home Shopping Network, doing what he does best--showing the products so people will want to buy.

Gill says much of we want in life--a job, a raise, a date,--involves a pitch, and you don't have to be born able to give one. Just like everyone else, you learn. Keep 5 steps and 3 qualities in mind, and you can go far.

Whether you're hitting a parent up for gas money as a teen, closing a big business deal, or, literally, getting satisfaction at a restaurant when your steak is overcooked, you're literally giving a pitch because you're looking for something from someone. The five steps are the basics of any pitch are:

  1. Introduction
  2. Short story
  3. Presentation
  4. Close
  5. Rehash

Here is more about the steps, demonstrating each with trying to return that steak you didn't like.


You're about to ask someone for a favor. Don't do it as a stranger. You need to make an introduction. It's much easier for someone to say no if you are anonymous. For the restaurant server, you might say, "I come in this restaurant all the time," or maybe, even, "This is my first time in this restaurant."

Short story

You're attracting the interest of the other person. Gill typically talks for a moment about the company or product history. He might talk about something interesting the manufacturing of the product or even the brief story of the inventor. At the restaurant, a short story could be something as simple as, "I order this all the time--it's always so good."


In the presentation, you demonstrate your case. In infomercials, it's where you list and demonstrate the features and explain how they benefit the buyer. In the restaurant, it's when you show how overcooked the steak is. Whatever the pitch, this is when you get the person completely involved.


"This is the most difficult part for anyone to learn," Gill said. "I remember from the trade show days, up until this point, usually people are pretty good. But when it gets to the point of asking someone for money they weren't planning to buy four minutes ago, this is where they usually fall off." You ask for the sale, request that the restaurant make good on the bad experience, or ask the person out on the date.

The close can be so tricky, it's worth noting that when people pitch at live shows, they sound automatic. That's because the presentation is. The pitch person has done it so many times, it could happen while sleeping. "What he's doing is watching the crowd for someone who shifts their weight, scratches their head, puts their hand on their hip, nudges their wife," Gill said. "That's all buying signals. If you get someone to buy, everyone else follows. If you pick wrong, others follow suit." The pitch person makes a mental list of who seems most likely and then, when it's time to close, looks at those people in the eye. You have to make the pitch to someone specific, otherwise everyone will walk away.


The rehash is when the upsell happens. You might offer the extended warranty, the deluxe set of knives, ask for the phone number, or see what the server or manager can do to make things right. Sometimes you go over the features and benefits a bit more to push someone over the edge.

That's the classic pitch, and you do it every day. However, if you're not practiced, you're probably doing it badly. That's OK, because everyone has to learn. Here are the three principles that can keep you going anyway.


Be enthusiastic about what you're doing. People see it in your eyes, whether they sit in front of you in an audience or sit at home and watch you on the television. "Raw enthusiasm and self-confidence made up for a lot of the hurdles along the way," Gill says. Will it be scary? Sure. Exciting, too. Give it your all.


You have to believe in what you're saying. If you don't, people will often know, and even if they don't, you'll develop a bad reputation over time. Gill has actually walked off sets and refused to represent products when he realized that their promises were lies.


The biggest secret to sales is the law of averages. Most people will say no. Some will say yes. Gill remembers going door-to-door. "You have to give 300 good quality pitches a day. In those 300, you'll find 15 or 20 people to say yes. If you can't get past the nos, if you can't get past the negativity and keep a smile on your face, you're not going to reach the ones who say yes." Keep at it. You'll learn and get better and better.