Pitching and How to Make it Successful for You and Your Business

On this specific morning I woke up with an urge to go to the library and read something. I have been a member of this library for some time now. Funny enough I haven’t gone there a single day to sit and read save for the books I borrow to read at home. So when I walked in, I just started hovering around trying to find some interesting read.

To be honest I went there to find some secrets on selling stuff. For those in business, you understand that the most important thing to a business is selling. Selling your products or services to customers. Selling your vision, mission and ideology to your first employees, family as well as friends. Selling yourself to other like-minded individuals for networking purposes.  Most important also is selling yourself, your ideas and your business to the investor community.

That is how I found myself holding Dan H. Pink’s book To Sell is Human in my hands. I perused through it and decided to read it for that day and I can say it was worth my time. I had first read Dan Pink about 3 to 4 years ago when I came across his book Drive. Here I was again holding him in my hands and with some form of gullibility ready to munch some lessons on selling. If you get those two books I can encourage you to read them.

To Sell is Human begins by insisting that every person is a salesman. Wondering how? Well, we are all in the business of pitching in every interaction we instigate. For instance when trying to make friends at work, we are selling ourselves to our fellow workers to like us. We are in the business of selling ourselves to our children to gain their trust by being good parents. We are always selling ourselves to our partners to gain their trust too as well as prove our love to them. Then there are those of us in the startup spaces always trying to sell our ideas and products to people to market ourselves and perhaps turn them to be our clients or investors.

All we do as people by trying to sell ourselves to others is what we call pitching. Mostly, pitching is taken to mean selling your business to prospective investors for the first time which is true but we can now realize that it is very wide. It is not always a one-time thing but rather a repetitive one. No wonder I can say authoritatively that we are always in the business of selling.

Ask yourself why Coca-Cola does still advertise and do promotions massively even when we feel they have already made it. What of Safaricom’s sucessful pitching? What secrets have they mastered that have made them pitch their businesses and ideas so successfully? World leaders like Barack Obama have mastered some secrets which make them a darling of the people. What is it they know we don’t? Funny enough there is nothing new. They have re-engineered the old school tactics. Simple.

To pitch successfully, tell your story conclusively, answer pertinent questions and don’t talk forever.

Back in the day, CEO’s and other senior people were very rare. You could only find them in the morning or evening and in the lift only. You only shared the lift and rarely for that matter. Their offices were closed ones as opposed to open ones today. So for you to sell your idea to them, you needed to do it in the shortest way possible before the lift flung open. So back in the day, a pitch was like a sip of tea. And if it is a single sip, you have to gulp enough in the shortest time possible. So people mastered the art of saying so much in just few words. That is the secret number one.

Dan Pink calls this the one word pitch. That one word people associate you with when they remember you and that one word that when people remember you, they utter it. An example is Obama’s word “Forward” in the 2012 campaigns.  Another example is “Twaweza” (Possibilities/ We can) for Safaricom. The words could be two or even three. For instance KTN’s “Welcome Home.” When the word(s) is combined with the brand, they summarize the story and you can decipher a few things in a second when you hear the word. For instance Safaricom- Twaweza, Everywhere- GBS, Coca-Cola – Taste the Feeling, Apple – Think Different.

Then there is the question pitch. Ask a simple question that will tell the rest of the story when answered by the prospective audience. They are often rhetoric questions. It could be a few-words question that arouses curiosity. I have seen this being used a lot in the Shark Tank reality show. An example from history is Ronald Reagan’s question while campaigning to unseat Jim Carter in 1980, “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” In Kenya there is the HIV campaign question, “Mimi nimejua hali yangu ya HIV, je wewe?” (I have known my HIV status, what about you?) You get the question and know it is high time you checked your status for that matter.

Thirdly is the rhyming slogan. First to come to my mind was what Nakumatt had, “You need it, we got it.” Eastmatt supermarkets say, “More saving. Better Living.” What do you think of McDonald’s “I’m lovin’ it?” What of the repetition in Energizer’s “It keeps, going, and going, and going?” And Heinz’s “Beanz Meanz Heinz?” The few words tell a big story in just a few words.

So when going out to pitch for you and your business make sure you master these few secrets. Add some more others like answering the three crucial questions, assuming it is a business: What is the business about, what is the product or service about and finally what am I about?

If you cannot say your whole story in the fewest words possible, then it means you have not mastered it. That is the secret of today’s selling. It doesn’t mean that now you share an open office with your boss means pitching them in five thousand words. The magic lies in the numbered words describing your idea, need or business.

There you go. Summarize your story in a few words and try it out there and see the response.


Copyright @ 2018.

Thank you to all of you finding time to write and encourage me as well as the comments I receive on this platform, I am grateful.

Geoffrey Ndege

Geoffrey Ndege

Geoffrey Ndege is the Editor and topical contributor for the Daily Focus. He writes in the areas of Science, Manufacturing, Technology, Innovation, Governance, Management and International Emerging Issues. For featuring, promotions or support, reach out to us at info@dailyfocus.co.ke
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