Avoiding crickets in new business pitches, part one

So, we’ve all been there. You’re pitching your heart out. And then…silence. Ugh. Here are few thoughts to get your mind thinking about ways to avoid the feeling you are pitching to yourself.

One of the keys is starting off the right foot from the get go. Get your prospects talking early. Engage them the minute you’re together. Greet them warmly and in a genuine way. Make that small talk if you feel it’s that kind of group. Their day, your travel, general business news, etc.

During the beginning of the meeting, there may also be an opportunity to go around the room and briefly introduce yourselves. Start with your team. But don’t stop there. Get those prospects involved.

Throughout your entire presentation, think discussion rather than presentation. In many situations, approach it more like a shared conversation about the client’s business rather than you telling them what you’re thinking.

One way to do that is through asking questions. Pepper some in throughout your content. Avoid yes and no questions. “How” and “what” questions can work particularly well because they help keep that conversation ball rolling. Some examples:

  • “How does our consumer understanding compare to what you guys already have?”
  • “How might this idea be shared with other stakeholders in the company?”
  • “We’re just beginning to learn about you guys. What are some of the internal challenges associated with what we’re talking about?”
  • “How does this compare with what has been done in the past”?

One of my favorite question tricks is something I first heard from a guru named Toni Loews. In a group training session long ago, he suggested that a great way to get questions towards the end of a presentation was to say something like, “No doubt, you have questions. (Recap a bit.) So, who would like to go first?” And then…and this is key…shut up! Your audience will fill the void.

Couldn’t a version of this be used throughout the meeting?! Sure.

Expect more posts around this topic (parts two and three.) And if you have any favorite techniques, shout. Thanks!