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Monica Smiley

Monica Smiley is editor and publisher of Enterprising Women. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Institute of Economic Empowerment of Women (IEEW). To learn more about how you can become a mentor in the Peace Through Business program or donate to the organization, visit www.ieew.org. Contact her at msmiley@enterprisingwomen.com.

3 Business Pitching Tips to Get Your YES by Laurie Richards

When it comes to pitching new business leads,” says Laurie, “everybody says ‘Don’t talk about what you do; talk about what you do for them…’ but then no one tells you how to do it!”

Here are Laurie’s three surefire tips for creating a client-centered pitch that is more likely to win you new business:

1. Use “you” language.

When you sit in a meeting or listen to a business pitch, think about the first three minutes of it. It's always about the speaker. The person introduces themselves, gives background about their project or their company, and on and on and on — and before you know it, you’re mentally making your grocery list, not listening to a word he or she has to say!

Instead, a new business pitch needs to start out with language like, “Imagine your business is such and such,” or “As a company who’s been in business for 42 years, you know that it's not enough to just be good performers; you've got to have the strongest ability to perform task X.”

At that point you could even add, “As a person who's been in business for 25 years myself, I understand that.” It’s okay to use the word “I,” but it should be more of an afterthought, with the entire focus of your presentation being about the client.

Another common business pitching faux pas is when people say, “I want you to be able to…” — fill in the blank. Who cares what you want? What does your customer want? Instead of “I want you to,” try “If you want to be able to afford to retire, you're going to want to put together this much money,” or “If you want your family protected, this is the policy that offers the clearest benefit,” or “If you want this organization to succeed, you’ll want to have your members be able to do X.” Present action steps, not your personal wish list — which ends up sounding salesy and disingenuous.

2. Know your client’s heaven and hell.

This is all about knowing your client’s ideal and worst possible outcomes and pitching to those. “If you want this ideal outcome, you’re going to take action X,” or “If you want to avoid this terrible outcome, you’re going to want to do this.”
For example, when someone says, “We’re going to invent new uses for this product,” does that inspire you? No; it’s just generic. Or when someone says, “We’re going to build business,” there’s nothing there to grab onto mentally or emotionally.

If instead you say, “The goal is to invent new uses so that there's a long term usefulness for this product… so that you can have it for years to come… so that the organization survives and thrives through the next generation,” all of a sudden you have people connecting to survival and ongoing stability. Practice using “so that” language to tie your pitch to creating the client’s heaven or avoiding the client’s hell.

3. Know where to showcase your “bottom line” in your pitch.

Pitching your product, service, or business more effectively means using a structure that is opposite from what most technical professionals are accustomed to. In most academic and technical environments, people are taught to build up to their idea by backing it up with all the facts, figures, opinions, and hypotheses first. This is an A + B = C way of presenting.
In business though, it’s better to follow the way journalists present their stories: with the newest, hottest info right at the top and the details after. This is more of a C = A + B way of presenting. Here’s why this works best for business pitches.

The higher most people go up in their careers, the less nitty gritty details they need to be involved in. If I’m a company Vice President trying to determine if I want your services, I need to know the bottom line. Then, I’ll ask you about the pieces if the bottom line interests me. I don’t have time to learn how you did your job; I just need to know if the end result is something I’d like to learn more about and engage with you on.

Always have answers ready, but start with your bottom line first. Then offer succinct, limited details and see if more information is requested.

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To learn more, visit Laurie’s online press kit at www.LaurieRichards.OnlinePressKit247.com or her public website www.LaurieRichards.com.

About: Laurie Richards is an accomplished international speaker, strategist, and organizational consultant who works with leaders, executives, entrepreneurs, sales people, and other professionals to improve communication at every level. Known for her practical, interactive, and entertaining approach, she helps clients strategically plan outcome-based presentations, put power into a PowerPoint (no more bored audiences), prepare for media interviews, manage crises (before, during, and after), grow morale, build stronger teams, and improve everyday communications to directly affect the bottom line (including new business pitches, state-of-the-organization addresses, sales presentations, and meetings). Many of Richards’ programs include personality profiling using Myers-Briggs, DISC, Social Styles, and other proven instruments to help clients work better as teams, improve efficiencies, select best candidates, and coach employees.

Richards began her career as a legislative correspondent for Public Broadcasting. She managed leader communications for the National Pork Producers Council — the nation's largest commodity organization and originator of the successful “Pork. The Other White Meat” campaign. She has hosted radio and television shows, managed one of the nation’s fastest growing public relations agencies, launched award-winning public affairs programs, managed highly effective grassroots lobbying efforts, and facilitated professional development programs for Fortune 100 companies and associations.

Richards is described as “enthusiastic, professional, effective, practical, savvy, inspiring, and enlightening.” Clients note her strengths as “an innate charismatic style coupled with the ability to really connect with her audience and bring practical real-life experiences we can use immediately.” Always on top of the latest communication trends, Richards’ learning material includes current information reflecting today’s high-speed lifestyles, cultural changes, technological advancements, and shifting priorities.

Laurie Richards holds degrees in communication and business management, master’s degrees in business management and psychology, and a variety of certifications in micro-expressions and psychological profiling. She is currently working toward her Ph.D. in industrial and organizational psychology. For more information, visit www.LaurieRichards.com.

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