I like it when people are direct. So, when I wanted to find out what would turn off someone on the receiving end of a business pitch, I asked Shawn Hamilton, Senior Vice President and Managing Director, of the Ottawa office of CBRE. I’ve worked with Shawn before and I knew I’d get the straight goods. His number one answer: “Don’t waste my time with banter.”
Shawn is so right. Of course, there’s a time and place for banter. But a cold call is not the place. Even in a pitch meeting you need to get to the point fairly quickly. Recently, I met with a woman who was pitching me on a new application for the online courses The Language Lab delivers. She spent nearly an hour talking at me but never got to the nitty gritty of my business needs. Truthfully, by the end of that conversation I hoped I wouldn’t have to speak with her again, let alone work with her — not exactly her desired result, I’m sure!
Five Common Mistake That Can Kill A Pitch
But wasting time is just one way to talk yourself out of a prospective client —- Here’s a list of five other common mistakes that can kill your pitch.
1. Ignorance is Not Bliss
Not knowing who you’re pitching and what that person’s business is all about is a surefire way to embarrass yourself, alienate your prospective client, and lose that person’s business. Take time to do a little research in advance of any pitch meeting. (It’s not hard. It’s called Google.)
2. Talk is Not CheapÂ
Talking too much can cost you your prospective client. It’s as important or more to ask questions and to listen. You can learn a lot about someone — that person’s concerns, needs, communication style — by getting them to open up instead delivering your monologue.
3. Time Does Not Fly
Don’t be late for a prospective client meeting — and make sure to end the meeting on time. Leaving a potential client hanging, or keeping a client from the rest of her/his busy day, is an excellent way to irritate that person.
4. Faking It Is Not a Good Idea
Even though our internet age makes some people believe that anyone can do anything and make money doing it, the fact is you need to substantiate your claims of expertise. For example, if you say you have superior online skills but fail to provide video for your virtual pitch meeting, your prospective client may doubt those claims. Far better to follow Shawn Hamilton’s suggestion: “Tell me something factual and compelling to gain my attention.” (Of course, in order to do so, you actually do have to have genuine knowledge!)
5. The Boastful Shall Not Inherit the Earth
You need to be articulate and communicate your skills. But don’t try and prove you’re the greatest thing since the invention of the iPhone. As I’ve said on The Language Lab blog before, it’s not about you, it’s about them, i.e. your audience. Or, to quote the pithy Shawn Hamilton one more time, “Don’t tell me how great you are. It bores me, and it might not even be relevant to my needs.”
So there you have it. Don’t bore people, do your research, ask questions and listen, offer something substantial, and be on time — that’s my pitch to you on how you can make killer pitches to potential clients — instead of pitches that kill any chance of landing that new client.
Do you need help with your business pitches? Contact The Language Lab.