Pitch Perfect: How-To

July 17, 2009

in Client Tell, Say What You Mean, Workshops

blogtalkradio: LA Freelancers

WOW! I was on a terrific show on blogtalkradio today! Colleen Rice Nelson has a show dedicated to supporting self-employed folks and she invited me to give a Pitch Perfect workshop today. Three wonderful volunteers, Walt, Melissa and Heather made the process fantastically interactive–we got so into it, we even had and after-show where other folks called in for one-on-one help! Download the show, listen in, subscribe to Colleen’s show if you want more great resources (if I do say so myself). If you are really game-on, then try out my handy-dandy worksheet.

I have tried blurb workshops, elevator speech how-tos online and found one that really works!  Colleen Wainwright (yes, I have several Colleens in my life–and they are all keepers!) and I worked together and what came out of that process is Colleen’s great system for talking about a business or project. It boils down to three prompts:
Are you this person?
With this problem?
I can help, here’s how:

My adaptation of Colleen’s questions are:

What is one challenge your clients struggle with?
Describe one characteristic that makes you right for them?
What’s one product you offer or specific method you use to help them?

Fill in the blanks for yourself, your business or your product and you have the beginnings of a great pitch. Once you have answered the questions, then comes the creative part. Write a two-sentence summary of the answers and this is your draft pitch. Play around with it!

After I used Colleen’s process, I developed several pitches. BUT it didn’t stop there—I still really struggled with delivering my pitches and, for a while, nothing felt right. SO, I looked into WHAT REALLY WORKED for me, and in my style. I came up with these 6 principles for a Perfect Pitch as an add-on to Colleen’s excellent strategy:

Remember: if you focus on even ONE of the Perfect Pitch Principles, you WILL make progress!

1.    Start where you are: be nice to yourself! It takes time to break into your pitch—look at it like a new pair of shoes. Wear your pitch around the house a bit before you take it on the road.

2.    Lighten up! If you aren’t having fun doing what you’re doing—how can others hire you? A pitch doesn’t have to be deep or serious—it just has to be clear and easy to understand. Use other folks’ or your clients’ comments to spice it up.

3.    Test it: practice your pitch with strangers or really candid friends and colleagues—select folks who ARE NOT your prospective clients—you won’t be as pressured to perfection AND they will be honest with you! If you ask friends, be sure to ask the ones who WILL tell you your butt looks fat in those jeans!

4.    Focus on the OTHER: by starting with what problem you are here on earth to solve, it becomes about your potential clients, not about YOU. Remember, others are buying your product or service to help themselves.

5.    Pitch & Pause: practice saying your pitch, quickly, if it’s your introduction, cut it down to 10 seconds or LESS, then WAIT. Allow the person you are talking to ask questions and react (remember: it’s about THEM!)

6.    Commit to your pitch for a month: nothing is permanent, you have the pitch process now—it’s yours, you can always try a new one. Allow your pitch to settle in. Take notes on people’s responses. Did more people get confused by it than those who got what you were saying?

What’s your perfect pitch? Put it in the comments and get some feedback!

  • http://communicatrix.com Colleen Wainwright

    Excellent to-do/how-to list!

    To clarify my own three-step process, they’re actually:

    1. Are you this person with this problem?
    2. I can help.
    3. Here’s how…

    Understanding how to address each of the items takes a bit of doing; I get into it in this article I wrote for Biznik, and expound on it quite a bit in my presentations with examples of how it works across different media and applications.

    Of your whole list, my fave two things are “be nice to yourself” and “it’s about them.” Honestly, if I can remember those two things in any situation, I’m golden.

  • http://www.dyanavalentine.com Dyana Valentine

    Thanks so much for the clarification, Colleen. I’m so glad you posted your link here and YES, for all you readers: HIRE Colleen to come do a talk for you. She’s clear, amazing and chock-fulla-goodness. You’ll have strategies to use for months after a session with her.

    Thanks for reflecting on your takeaways–I also love the part of your philosophy for how to gear your work towards others that goes (something) like this:
    Be Useful
    Be Specific
    Be Nice

    Correct me if I misquoted that one. You rock!

  • Pingback: Interview with Dyana Valentine: How to sell yourself with the perfect pitch — Rock Unemployment!()

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