Six Ways to Strengthen Your Pitch

Not every persuasion attempt you make will be successful. But here are six ways to strengthen your chances by adding muscle to your pitch:

1. Drop your “er.”

Watch out for the language tic that uses the comparative “er” when referring to new products, services or ideas – as in “better,” “nicer” or “sleeker” than another product or service you sell, or an “easier,” “stronger” or “sexier” idea than someone else’s.

2. Work your way though unreasonable demands.

Sometimes (although, thankfully, not as often as most salespeople fear), buyers’ positions will become intractable: “If you don’t give me a 50 percent price reduction, I’m going to your competitor!” One of my favorite phrases to use in these situations is “unreasonable demands” – as in, “I’m sorry, but you are really making unreasonable demands.” Most people don’t want to have their motives or actions characterized in that manner, so when you have to, do so.

3. Ask for help.

When you’re looking for clarification, don’t be afraid to ask. For example, when you’re trying to isolate an objection, say something like, “Help me understand why you feel that way.” It’s a great step toward easily transitioning to the next part of the persuasion process.

4. Be careful about how you acknowledge the point.

I chuckle when a salesperson responds to an objection with an honest “Actually, you make a good point” – as if the customer was able to somehow come up with something smart and relevant to say. Avoid it, and acknowledge the point without faux flattery.

5. Don’t settle for little solutions.

No one wants a “little” solution. They want a powerful solution, a unique solution, a significant solution. Don’t belittle your own contribution.

6. Don’t accept “no” for an answer.

When someone delivers a flat-out “no,” ask very politely if, were you to tell him something he has yet to consider, he would be willing to change his mind. If the answer is “yes,” that “no” just got upgraded to a “maybe.” And then …

The Psychology of Self‐Persuasion: The First Person Who Needs To Say ‘Yes’ Is You

Whether it’s chasing a new job, requesting a plumb assignment or making a budget pitch to your board of directors, we all talk to ourselves before we take action. Many psychologists have labeled this ongoing mental dialogue “self‐talk.”

These internal comments impact thoughts, emotions, actions and ultimately careers and life itself. The following quote, attributed to everyone from Mahatma Gandhi to Ralph Waldo Emerson to the president of a leading supermarket chain, illustrates this cause and effect:

Watch your thoughts, they become words;
Watch your words, they become actions;
Watch your actions, they become habits;
Watch your habits, they become your character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.

The point is made even more elegantly in one of my favorite books of all time, As a Man Thinketh, by philosopher James Allen, published just after the turn of the 20th century and reprinted many times. It may very well have been the first “self‐help” book.

“Man is made or unmade by himself; in the armory of thought he forges the weapons by which he destroys himself,” Allen wrote. “He also fashions the tools with which he builds for himself heavenly mansions of joy and strength and peace.”

What are you building?

Photo by Thomas Leuthard

Want to get more people to say, “Yes!” to you more often?

Dress better. A study analyzing people’s inclination to follow a jaywalker dangerously crossing traffic proved very interesting.  Dressed in coveralls and work boots, no one followed the lawbreaker. The same person dressed in a three piece suit, had people following him like the dram major of a marching band.

Some experts suggest you should dress ten percent better than the person you want to persuade. I’m not sure how you would quantify that sort of sartorial precision, but I do know you should look the best you can. When you dress well, are pressed and clean and you’re your shoes are shined, people will follow your lead.