The Danger of the Mini-Pitch

On Steve's Mind: a Newsletter

Ditch the Pitch

We all find ourselves in persuasive situations we’ve been in before. Sometimes, we meet a type of customer we know well or encounter a question we’ve heard oh-so-many times before.

A friend of mine sells high-end technology products, and he often has the chance to discuss his company’s service contracts. He regularly hears the question, “But what if I don’t need support every month?”

In a workshop last week, I met a broker who rents space for several office buildings. She has several conversations every week explaining lease agreement terms.

When situations like these come up, it’s tempting to “reach into inventory” and pull out pre-fabricated sentences and paragraphs that you often say in these recurring situations.

But this reaction sounds very similar to a sales pitch.

Most people can detect a sales pitch with only the slightest clues. Even if you have tried hard to avoid delivering a pre-scripted pitch, leaving your PowerPoint deck at home and focusing on creating a fresh, spontaneous conversation with the person you are persuading, that person is likely to notice that what you are saying has been used before. Whether it is the rhythm in your voice, a slight change in tone or an answer that seems generic, they will sense that you are telling them the same thing you have told other people, and, therefore, it won’t seem personally relevant to them.

A sales pitch doesn’t have to last for the duration of an entire meeting. Pitches can be as short as a sentence, if that sentence sounds like it was created before the meeting that you are in right now.

Here are a few tips to avoid using “mini-pitches:”

1. Be aware of the pitch

As with so many things in life, the first step to self-improvement is self-awareness. Listen to yourself. Do you tend to rely on a set of phrases, sentences and paragraphs in persuasive situations that you see frequently?

2. Have a mindset of uniqueness

Think different. Have a goal of creating a completely new conversation that you or the other person has never been in before, because you know that a conversation like this will be much more engaging and relevant to the person you are persuading. Be prepared to use words and phrases in new combinations, so that everything you say sounds fresh and new.

3. Adapt the conversation to the customer

When you become proficient with first two Ditch the Pitch Habits, Think Input Before Output and Size Up the Sceneyou learn how to use information about your customer to improvise a fresh, spontaneous persuasive conversation. Let the details about the other person and about their situation influence the specific combinations of words and phrases you use.

It doesn’t take much to trigger another person’s sales pitch detection response. Fortunately, it’s not difficult to say things in new ways, so you can avoid triggering that response. Break your mini-pitches into their component words and phrases, and assemble those words and phrases in new ways, depending on the particular nuances of the conversation you find yourself in, and you will be much more effective at keeping people engaged, and getting them to say “yes.”

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Posted in Customer Encounters, Ditch the Pitch, Improvisation, Newsletters, Sales

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