Top positive review
10 people found this helpful
on 24 July 2013
Lacking a class system America appears to have re-invented one based on status and Oren Klaff treats it at length in his book on pitching. The author pitches investments to the Great and The Good (and the self-Important) of the American financial system, attempting to out-master the Masters of the Universe in the interests of getting the deal. This kind of selling has its own special features but contains enough of a general nature to be of value to someone in other selling environments.
As is often the case with the American business advice book, Oren is mesmerised by the wonderfulness of the rich and successful (he likes status even though it gives him a problem) and has saved himself from financial disaster and raised himself up to vast wealth by the strength of his own method. He is, in short, a bit of a bore. However, he has some valuable lessons for us if we keep awake during the self-adulation.
His key point (in terms of what seems to take the most time) is his concern that we pitch from a higher status point than the audience for the pitch. He describes very well indeed the methods by which buyers aim to put the pitcher in a lower social position (keeping them waiting, hiding them on small chairs behind massive desks). His analysis of the Walmart Pitch Hell is very very good. Oren tries to suggest methods whereby you can grasp back control of the meeting by the imposition of "frames". Many readers will find these methods highly challenging though they are second nature to we rude boys. You really do have to believe they are lucky to see you, you have to be prepared to walk away from badly structured meeting aimed to crash your pitch. But beware, if you engage in an alpha male pitch battle you must be prepared for fireworks and you will lose lots of pitches. You will find the ones you win are of better quality. Your boss (for those of you unfortunate enough to have one) may take a different view.
Having battered your opponents into seeing you as someone to prize not to abuse Oren has lots of useful advice on the rest of your pitch based on a rather "interesting" analysis of evolutionary neuroscience. I will leave this to one side but key points like gripping the listener early and not holding him too long are certainly true whatever the reason. I learned these from the great presentation expert Lee Bowman of Kingstree. Your pitch must be less than 20 minutes, it must avoid the long technical description in favour of the fast explanation of the benefits, and you must be prepared for the audience to try to reframe the discussion (the little tinkers!).
There is a lot of value here even if you think you cannot quite bring yourself in engage in status combat.