Life’s a Pitch!

Like it or not, everything we do in life involves some sort of ‘sale’!

Now you know that I don’t like ‘sales’ and I don’t like the 20th century sales culture that many people still adhere to – I wrote about it some time ago in a series of insights called ‘Death of the Salesman’.

And I try very hard, when I’m talking to people about growing their business and so on not to use those old-fashioned terms like ‘prospects’ and ‘closing’ and all the other abrasive terminology that goes with it.

It’s not easy to avoid using those words, they are deeply embedded. My new book “How To Set Up Your Own Personal Business” (coming soon) uses terms like purchaser, engagement and candidate instead of customer, closing and prospect – and it seems (at least to me) to make sense.

After all, do you like being thought of as a ‘prospect’, do you like being ‘closed’?

I don’t think so.

When I was training in the States to become a certified Life Coach, we were given some marketing lessons. Most of it was very American and very old fashioned, but the trainer, Rich Boggs, did say one quite profound thing.

“In every transaction someone always makes a sale”

He explained that “if you don’t close the prospect, then the prospect will close you – one of you will close the sale”.

Meaning that if you don’t do your pitch well, then your ‘prospect’ will bring in a stronger pitch convincing you that they are going to say ‘no’ and that will be the end of it

“They will sell you on the idea that they are not going to buy”.

Life is all about the pitch and the counter pitch.

In a debate one person tries to convince another about something they are opposed to. Argument goes one way and another and it usually ends up by those present voting on who made the best argument.

It’s much the same in a Court of Law. The Prosecution and Defence present their ‘evidence’ and their arguments and the Jury decides who was the most convincing. Sadly, that sometimes has very little to do with truth or fact.

It’s all about the pitch.

You and I started making pitches when we were born.

Initially our arguments consisted of making quite a lot of noise until our parents gave us what we wanted – or didn’t – but one way or another someone ‘closed the sale’!

The education system is the same.

Children from a very early age including education by their parents, are presented in various ways with certain ideas and convinced (or otherwise) that they should adopt them.

You and I took on the ideas and values our parents presented to us – we ‘bought into’ them. We might have rejected them later but throughout our lives we have been ‘pitched’ certain ideas, stories and ‘facts’ that have shaped who we are now.

And it goes on.

The media and the advertising industry are doing it all the time, not to mention (which I did the other week) the propaganda we are bombarded with via reality shows and soap operas.

It’s all a pitch to buy into a certain way of life.

So be aware!

They are all out to get you.

They are all out to get you to agree with their ideology, to buy into their culture – to vote for them or to buy their stuff.

But it’s not just ‘them’.

It’s you and I as well.

It’s ‘us’.

Because we are doing it all the time too. We are all pitching something to someone.

It might be the 60 second presentation beloved of business networking groups, it might be a webinar – even if there’s no distinct ‘sales pitch’ at the end, it might be a chat up line or even a romantic proposal, it might be a lecture or talk on some educational topic. It might even be a post on Facebook with pictures of where you are today.

It’s all a pitch

A pitch about you, about who you are, about what you do, about who you want to be . . .

Because it’s only when others understand who you or I really are, that they will engage with us in any way that me way wish them to – and that of course depends on the nature of the pitch.

So, here’s the thing – how do you and I make our ‘pitch’, whatever it is intended to do, actually ‘work’.

My mentor Peter Thomson frequently explains a key principle he has learnt over the years which only very few people really understand.

It has a military background.

When two warships engage in battle what happens?

Well, they don’t line up the crew to fire at the other ship with rifles – that’s not going to have any effect whatsoever. What they do is fire their big guns first.

That way they can have maximum impact on their adversary. That way they get noticed.

It’s the same in any battle – the big guns, the artillery, or the bombers are the first to engage.

It’s the same when you or I are engaging with a potential client or purchaser or just someone we want to get to know.

Show them your best stuff, fire your big guns first, tell them what you can do at your full potential.

That way you get noticed, that way you get credibility, that way you engage – instead of being passed by.

But many people don’t want to do this because they are afraid of ‘giving the good stuff away’.

Instead of the ‘big guns’ they bring out a revolver or a bow and arrow and expect that to make an impression.

They are afraid that their ‘competitors’ will steal the show if they reveal what they really have to offer up front whereas in fact their so-called competitors are more likely to think ‘we can’t compete with that – if that’s what they open with, they must have something even better to follow up’.

The battle fleets going back several centuries created a reputation at which the Royal Navy were pretty good – firing their big guns first put them in the ascendency, made them the battle fleets not to get on the wrong side of – scared the living daylights out of their competitors.

Life’s a pitch.

To ‘win’ the pitch you have to let people know who you are.

You have to create a reputation.

Fire your big guns first and get the advantage.