The Winning Voice

Best in class communication techniques from Michael Kelly

Pitch – with a memorable prop

Crystal ball eps10Many years ago I suggested to a business pitch consulting client that they buy a crystal sphere (they paid $500 for one) to be used in their multi-million dollar Pitch-day presentation, against competition.

I’m not suggesting you do the same when you’re pitching for a significant piece of business. I do suggest that you think about what prop, or other device or fresh image you could use that would be positively memorable in the mind and eyes of the person(s) you’re pitching to. That could give you the edge in winning your pitch.

Let me explain the thinking behind recommending the use of the crystal sphere.

In one of the pitch team meetings we were searching for something that would hook the client to listen. The crystal sphere (that we would ask the prospective client to imagine as a ‘crystal ball’) was suggested because it tied into the key message of the pitch.

That is, it tied into how my client’s organisation would be able to help the client positively handle the substantial, upcoming changes in their market landscape.

Here’s how the lead presenter opened the Pitch-day presentation:

(as he held up the ‘crystal ball’, he said) “Imagine this sphere was an actual crystal ball, and we could gaze into it . . . what would it say about your company three years from now? . . . (placing the sphere on the table in front of the CEO he continued) . . . let me tell you what I see, and how we”ll be able to help you secure your leading position in your market, as its landscape is radically transformed”.

My client went on to flesh out the key message and compelling reasons for buying my client’s services. The upshot was, that my client won this substantial piece of business.

In addition to a large piece of business being won, there was an additional benefit. When the sphere was bought we had the prospect’s company name engraved on a name plate at the base of the structure on which it was mounted. We believed, that whether the business was won or lost, the CEO prospect would not discard an expensive crystal sphere with his company’s name on it.

We believed (and it was proven to be true) that the CEO would place the sphere in his office. This is where it became a long-term, memorable prop, ‘selling’ my client’s company.

That is, over the years people would comment on the the sphere and the CEO would most likely relay how he received it. Potentially he would mention the pitch and my client’s company, to people who commented on it.

There is a caution in using props. You need to discuss how the prospect will perceive your use of the prop. If you believe the prospect would perceive a prop as cheesy, don’t use it. Before deciding to buy the sphere the pitch team and I had debated the prospect’s potential perception of it.

We decided that the the ‘crystal ball’ sphere wouldn’t be viewed as cheesy. Rather, it would be perceived as novel and positively memorable. Most pitchers are too conservative when considering what props could be used to in their pitches. If your discussion about the prospect perception of your prop is positive, go for it. It could be the edge that wins you the business.

Your ‘CALL to action/HOW to apply’ for this post: Before you do your next important pitch – brainstorm what prop, image, video clip could be used make your presentation/pitch positively memorable to the client/audience.

p.s. Check out this post which explains why your voice sounds different on audiotape versus when you normally speak.

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