You won’t need these techniques with friends, because you’ll have enough shared background and “friendship equity in the relationship bank” to simply ask for what you want.
You won’t need them in a formal presentation, either, because you’ll (hopefully) have enough hard-hitting information, facts, and credibility to make your case to a group that is already looking forward to hearing from you and expects they can likely benefit from what you are offering.
But when you’re making a one-on-one sales or introductory pitch to a person you hardly know, and with whom you’d like to build a positive relationship, you will need these techniques to smooth your way.
Based on experience, it’s fair to say this simple but powerful formula will help you improve the odds of getting what you want from the other person:
Take a brief moment to build a bridge to and make contact with the other person. Do your usual “meet and greet,” being sure to ask about their day or generally how they are doing.
Use these first few seconds to offer a “first impression” of yourself, too, demonstrating through behavior that you’re friendly and accessible. At the same time, take your first impression of the other person: Is this someone you might like to work with? Could the two of you get along?
Don’t give your name during the first few seconds; wait until you’ve made a few other remarks. This is important because people rarely listen from the get go. They’re too busy looking for clues about who you are and how you operate. Better to wait and give your name once the other person has become fully receptive to hearing you.
Assuming the other person is someone you’d willingly work with…
Take another moment to gauge where they are coming from: Why are they talking to you? What might they need and want that you are in a position to supply? Do they appear to be open to you and to whatever offer you’re going to make, or are they just marking time until they can shoo you off?
Assuming the other person is listening, with at least one ear…
Make Your Pitch
Having established some kind of connection and gained at least a cursory understanding of why they might be listening to you, try to convey three things, briefly:
- That by using your skills / experience/ knowledge you can help the other person achieve, obtain, or accomplish the specific thing you heard them say they want.
- That you are distinguished from all others in the room, in the business, or in the world by virtue of having a unique and particular set of skills / experience / knowledge that is remarkably well aligned with whatever they are aiming for.
- That you have a specific passion – and choose one (a real one!) that fits nicely with whatever the other person is trying to achieve, obtain, or accomplish.
Once you’ve come this far, you might as well wrap things up…
Lay the Groundwork
Time is precious, and in most brief pitches this is the point where you are beginning to run out of it. So quickly do three more things:
- Ask if the other person has any interest in what you are saying and exploring further. If “no,” think about whether or not you’d like to stay in touch with this person. It’s perfectly all right to just move on to whoever and whatever comes next.
- Explore whether either or both of you can refer the other to someone who might be a good fit.
- If the other person does have some interest in what you’ve said then exchange contact information and set a date and time for a next step.
Throughout all this, don’t forget to enjoy yourself. Make a joke. Show your personality. Mention something relevant that you like to share. Keep it light and breezy.
Of course, this formula won’t get you everything you want every time. But if you are relaxed and having fun, this whole process tends to flow more naturally, and that makes it yield much better results.