I used to be the shortest, weakest, and most annoying kid on the planet. I was extremely socially awkward.
I had no idea how to talk to anyone. Most of my attempts to make friends in elementary school turned sour, and it’s a miracle that most of my closest friends ever became friends with me. In fact, most of my childhood friendships started out with a great deal of conflict.
I never naturally picked up social cues, which has driven me to pay much closer attention in recent years, and construct frameworks for how I can present myself and interact in different social and professional situations.
In my years spent thinking about social constructs and how people interact with each other, I’ve found that time and time again it boils down to the psychology of how people see themselves and others, and how that influences the way that they think.
I’ve observed many things through people watching. Whether it be a teacher in a classroom, a family in a restaurant, or a boyfriend and girlfriend talking to each other in a cafe, it’s extremely fascinating to pick up on the body language, verbal language, and other cues that people give each other.
And as I’ve dived deeper into the world of startups, venture capital, and business in general, one aspect of social interaction that I’ve been studying more is the art of pitching.
Pitching is a very unique art for a number of reasons.
- Pitching is always about one party winning the other party over to their side to accomplish what they want. In other words, at the end of a pitch, either the salesman gets their way or the candidate gets their way. The best way to do this is by convincing the other party to get on your side, so that you both get what you want.
- There are many different approaches to convincing the other party to join your side, many of which are effective, and others extremely detrimental.
- There are also many defense mechanisms that people being pitched to will use in an attempt to maintain power.
- Pitching is an emotional appeal presented as a logical proposal.
- Pitching is an art loaded with underlying psychology, power conflicts, etc. that is difficult to observe.
Recently, in working on my own startup, my cofounder and I were introduced by Chase Jarvis to a book titled Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff.
The book talks in detail about many of the different frames when it comes to pitching and negotiation, and gives specific examples of how these frames come into play during a negotiation.
As I’ve begun implementing many of the tactics that Klaff mentions, here are my key takeaways.
- It is easier to do a pitch from a place of higher status. People want what they can’t have or what is moving away from them. If you pitch by begging and being needy, you put yourself in a beta position and are easily disregarded. However, if you explain that there are many people willing to take your deal, and that you only have a small window of time, they become much more interested and willing to negotiate.
- Don’t get bogged down into the details during the pitch. The analyst frame will suck all the energy out of the pitch, and turn it into a very dry and dead pitch session.
- Prize what you have to offer, add scarcity to make an offer more appealing to your prospects. Prizing can even mean limiting the amount of time you spend pitching, in order to communicate that you are in high demand and working with you will be valuable.
Those simple principles are enough to make any pitch a million times better.