"Pitch Anything" by Oren Klaff - book summary
Pitch Anything: an innovative method for presenting, persuading, and winning the deal… by Oren Klaff, an investment banker who pitches deals for a living and has raised more than $400 million for his clients, using a technique that he’s perfected over 10 years. If you don’t believe in mainstream selling tactics, and find something viscerally wrong with cold calling that has a success rate of maybe 1%, the author presents a compelling alternative – a way to regain the respect of your clients AND have fun while at it!
Why do we suck at presenting? You have these awesome ideas, but when you explain them to others, you get blank stares... what's going on? It has to do with how our brains have evolved. First, the “old” brain, or “crocodile” brain, developed millions of years ago to process fight-or-flight responses and keep us alive. Next came the mid-brain, to process social signals and relationships as we started living in larger groups. And finally, the higher-brain – or neocortex – to process complex thoughts and solve problems. When you're explaining ideas, it comes as no surprise that you're using your neocortex. But get this: your audience is using their ‘croc’ brain! The ‘croc’ brain has to prioritize what gets through because we have limited ‘brain processing power’ and too many stimuli. Think of it this way: if something is NOT super-important and requires too many brain cycles, it's classified as 'spam' and gets discarded.
How to break through? So how can you get through the ‘croc’ brain? Your message has to be simple so it can get processed, your story has to be emotional so it’s remembered, you have to elevate your social status so you command your audience’s attention, and you have to pull back at the end so you don’t appear needy. Let THEM come to you... To accomplish all this, first you have to take control of the situation. Your audience starts from a position of power, and you need to unsettle that position. The author describes a pitch, where an important client started eating an apple, clearly not listening to the presentation. Immediately, the author excused himself for some water, went to the kitchenette and grabbed a knife, came back and grabbed the apple saying: I hope you don’t do business like this… In my deals, everybody gets a slice. He proceeded to cut a slice from the apple and ate it. No doubt he had the client’s full attention after that!
Conclusion Nobody wants to sit through yet another boring, hour-long, numbers-driven pitch. So next time you have to pitch an idea and persuade a client or audience, you can follow the author’s bold framework to take control and be memorable. You’ll have to take risks and perhaps get outside your comfort zone, but with practice you’ll win more deals and have more fun!