Rapping sensation Eminem once described the unintended consequences of pitching thusly: ‘Knees weak, arms are heavy, vomit on his sweater already…’ It can be tough standing and presenting before strangers, or even picking up the phone and battling for a journalist’s attention. Pitching doesn’t have to be so hard, and with a few easy tips and tricks, you’ll be pitching like a PR pro in no time.
This may appear obvious but be familiar with your material. Know what your agency stands for, and what angle you are pitching. Make sure you know the presentation back to front and the key elements of the strategy you are pitching. Get a colleague to help you out with a script if you are unsure, and it will help keep you on track.
The team has your back
Remember that when you pitch, you aren’t doing so by or for yourself. You pitch as a team, and you win or lose clients as a team. Although it may appear daunting when the attention is on you, you aren’t in it alone. They will help if you stumble, forget a key fact, or stutter through a campaign idea.
Fake it till you make it
Everyone has off days, and you might just fall foul to one when you are due to pitch. If you aren’t in an especially social or confident mood, then pitching can be an anxiety inducing affair. Take a few deep breaths and try your best to appear confident. Odds are the pitchee won’t even be able to tell that you aren’t on your A game, and as time passes things will get easier. This especially applies to phone pitching. Sit back, relax, smile, and ring that number. What’s the worst that could happen?
Take the opportunity
Pitching is a great chance for personal development. Public speaking, and selling more generally, is a skill that is useful to everybody. Is a pitch that different to a job interview, or even to a first date? Take the opportunity and see pitching for what it is; the chance to showcase your skills and develop your own confidence. Talking to that handsome stranger on the tube will be a breeze after you’ve smashed your first pitch.
They are people too
No-one is expecting a perfect academy award performance. In fact, reading off a script will make you sound robotic and less charming. A little stumble here or there is no big deal; your boss has been in your boots, and so has the potential clients. And if it all goes wrong, take the Madagascar penguin approach: Smile and wave.
Plenty of fish in the sea
You aren’t going to win every pitch, and you may not win your first pitch. You might just not have the skills that they need, or the prospect may pull out. No successful business is built upon a single client, and if one gets away it’s no big deal. Learn your lessons for next time and realise that doing your first pitch is a huge achievement, whatever the outcome.
Pitching isn’t easy and can be nerve-wracking at the best of times. It is, however, an opportunity to flex that charm muscle and showcase what you’ve got. Selling is a skill that is deeply transferable, and only gets easier with time. Have fun with it, realise your audience is human, and watch your self-confidence skyrocket.