Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Pitch Book Platitudes

Many businesses use pitch books.  Wall Street is awash in them.  They seem to be a cultural necessity at prospect meetings – a power-pointed MRI of the work that went into our presentation.  Teams of sleep-deprived analysts assemble countless charts, graphs, models and drop-down bulleted lists of critical information. The books are bound in living color with details  galore.  The prospective client gets all the information they need to make a decision – about the firm, the team, the product or the deal.  It all looks great.
Just one problem.  They’re not buying the book – they’re buying us.

Most pitch books I see start with qualifying the firm and the team.  That forces even the best among us into dull exposition from the outset.  Despite years of experience and reputation, we start off using our “reporter” voice, even though they are waiting to hear our “leader” voice.
Two things to try...

First, give your prospect a verbal movie trailer of your main message before you get into the exposition part.  If you don’t, you might wade through 10+ pages of exposition before they ever hear a hint of a punch line.  A strong opening statement with context, framing and intention helps them know where you're headed and why.
Second, start by questioning and listening.  Where’s the rule book that says we have to start a prospect meeting by telling?  Simple questions like “what’s on your mind?” or “where would you like to start?” or my favorite “how can we be most helpful?”  People push back on me with the old dog and pony show doctrine – my prospect expects to see a presentation.  Oh yeah.  Who said?  Did you ask the prospect?  Maybe they’d rather listen to nails dragged across a chalkboard than sit through another 27 slide data dump.

I know I’m pitching the bleeding obvious here and there are times when team dog and pony shows are inevitable in the business world.  I get it.  I’m just saying that if you think your firm, team and ideas are at all unique, why approach the task of relating that uniqueness to a prospect in the same pedestrian way all of your competitors do?  Break out of pitch book prison.  Go back to your well-honed skills in conversation and connection.
The book’s not the star – you are!

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