A sales pitch isn't something that you and I look forward to at any point in time.
When people ask what we do, we are often unsure what to reply.
Sometimes we may have a script that we've practiced over and over again. Yet we don't often have success with scripts, because somehow we haven't gotten the attention of the prospect.
How can we bypass the tedious answer and create a small 2-minute sales pitch that gets the prospect involved?
Learn how to use the twin powers of contradiction and demonstration to instantly get and keep attention.
Right click to save this episode.
Imagine you're in a room with me, and I have a jug of water and a glass.
I pour the water into the glass, and I drink it. Then, I pour another glass, and I drink it. Then, yet another, and I drink it. At that point, you're on your phone or distracted by what happened earlier in the day.
Would you continue to be distracted, or would you pay attention? The chances are you'd be curious to know what happens next—and so you'd be likely to stop what you're doing and look towards something that is unfolding before your eyes.
What does this have to do with a two-minute sales pitch, you may ask?
A sales pitch isn't something that you and I look forward to at any point in time. When someone starts to try to sell us something, we instinctively put up barriers. The sales pitch doesn't need to involve any monetary transaction, either.
Maybe it's a friend trying to convince you to try out a different flavour of ice cream. Or a relative keen to tell you how to overcome your acidity problem. We can't help but put up the walls whenever someone tries to sell us something.
Part of the reason is the mismatch between “buyer” and “seller”. When someone asks you, “what do you do”? they don't have a clue as to who you are. Fat chance of them buying something a couple of minutes later.
Yet some are capable of getting an idea across and getting the other person extremely interested.
And giving yourself two minutes—or even just 60 seconds- is crucial. You'd think it would take longer to get someone interested, but that's seldom the case. We read the headline of a news article, and then we read more. We stumble on a sales page or an article, and it's the first few lines that get our attention. To understand how to pitch an idea, we need to make our concept viable in seconds, not minutes. The question is: how do we do it?
Let's look at a couple of ways
Method 1: A puzzle
Method 2: Demonstration
Let's start with the puzzle.
Method 1: A puzzle
Have you watched the movie “Speed”?
Even if you have, here's the premise: A disgruntled, dangerous man plants a bomb in an elevator. When his mission fails, he plants a bomb in a local bus and threatens to set it off unless his demand is met.
The bomber states that a bomb on the bus will activate once it reaches 50 miles per hour (80 km/h) and detonate if it slows below that speed. He also demands a ransom of $3.7 million and threatens to trigger the bomb if any passengers leave.
That's a puzzle, isn't it?
When you bring up a puzzle, it's almost impossible to ignore. We can't help but pay attention to a mystery. And no matter what we sell, it's usually a puzzle, but instead of making it sound interesting, we say something boring.
Let's recycle a conversation we've all had, shall we?
Prospect: What do you do?
What we say: I'm in marketing, and we help small businesses get clients via social media.
It's interesting, isn't it? But not quite interesting enough, so here's a puzzle instead.
If you get onto Instagram, you'll notice that the businesses that get the most traffic are those with sexy models, fast cars or something really shiny. Yet, you get almost no attention if you're a plumber, a fence fixer, or sell ball bearings. How do you have a seemingly “non-interesting” business and still do well on social media?
You see what's happening, don't you?
The moment you wrap up what you do into a sort of puzzle, you are no longer trying to sell something. Instead, it's like handing someone a Rubik's cube and asking them to solve the mystery. Even if the person has zero interest in marketing, you've still activated their interest. They want to figure out how a mundane profession can do well in an area dominated mainly by glitz and glamour.
Let's take another example:
Prospect: What do you do?
What we say: I help clients spend less time and earn more.
And here's how you turn it into a puzzle.
Would you like to earn $10,000 more in your business per year? Or would you like three months off, instead? Most people want three months off, and the extra income is not a priority. Yet what if you were to take three months off and still earn $10,000 more? How could that be possible?
The question is: how do you make it into a puzzle?
The puzzle is created by contradiction. In the movie, Speed, the obvious way to end the hostage drama would be to stop the bus, but already that 50 mph limit has been established. The second obvious solution is to have another bus run alongside and get all the passengers off the bus.
The characters in the movie can't do that, either. It's a contradiction, and the problem becomes seemingly unsolvable. The same paradox popped up when we talked about selling plumbing or ball bearing on Instagram. It doesn't seem to fit, yet it looks like you have a way to defuse that Instagram bomb.
Finally, when we look at the income issue, we know that people want to earn more. However, they also want to have more time off. It's one or the other. Yet, when you bring up the issue of taking three months off, which is quite unimaginable, and earning more, you've created a contradiction—a puzzle that begs to be solved.
Every business has a puzzle that needs untangling.
There's a precise reason why you start your business. No one tends to wake up one day and say: Oh, there are seven thousand cafes in this city, and I'll just start one more. You start up your business because you think you solve the problem differently.
And that's how we went about creating most of our products and courses too. If you look at the stuff we do at Psychotactics, there's nothing particularly new or extraordinary. We have products about client behaviour, pricing, article writing, sales pages—and so on.
If someone asked us: what do you do, we said, “pricing OR article writing OR sales pages”, they may be interested, but the chances are that they don't have any interest at all.
Until you turn the very same thing into a puzzle
Let's take the product on pricing, for example. It's called “Dartboard Pricing”. Even without saying much, those two words represent a puzzle. Pricing should be scientific, yet some product claims to use a seemingly fun game inti pricing products and services. However, let's go past the product's name and look at the puzzle itself.
Prospect: What do you do?
What I say: The moment you raise prices, you tend to lose clients. Yet, what if there were a method where you increase prices by 10-15% regularly and never lose clients? Instead, it gets clients to see what you're doing and still want to buy more frequently from you.
Or if we take the example of the sales page course
Prospect: What do you do?
What I say: When a copywriter is given a sales page to write, they usually take two weeks or more and charge thousands of dollars. Yet, a complete beginner can consistently turn out a sales page that's just as good and do so in under three days.
In every case, you can create a bit of a tangle.
When concepts lie in direct opposition, the client has no choice but to pay attention. Every product or service in your business has inherent contradictions. If you want to get a client's attention in a few minutes—or even in under 30 seconds—you have to find out the contradiction in your product and service.
However, be aware of the biggest mistake that people make
They think their company is the story. Your client isn't buying your company. When the person asks: what do you do? they're not really interested in all in your company. And we've already established that they don't know you at all. This is why they're asking the question in the first place. Hence, you have to, have to, have to—tell them about ONE product.
Or ONE service.
You cannot talk about your company. You simply cannot.
Once you get them interested in one product, they will want to know more. That one product provides the doorway to other product or services. Clients will want more if your products are good, so there's zero point in pushing the entire company on them in a minute or two. Stick with just one product or service, and you'll do fine.
A puzzle works. But then, so does demonstration, provided you're not in an elevator.
Method 2: Demonstration
The executives at Corning glass were confused why one salesman was ahead of everyone else.
Corning glass had just developed the safety glass and introduced the concept to prospective customers. At the time, the idea of safety glass was new, and customers were very sceptical about this new type of glass. In short, sales were relatively stagnant.
Yet there was one salesman who was filling in orders like greased lightning. And that left the executives at Corning glass flummoxed. How could one person be so far ahead of the rest? What strategy could he be using that was so very compelling? And were customers lining up to buy from one person while they seemed lukewarm to the rest of the sales force?
The question was asked. The salesperson answered:
“First, I get some pieces of safety glass cut into 6″ X 6” pieces as samples. Then, I got myself a ball-peen hammer. I'd walk up to a prospective customer and say, ‘Would you like to see a piece of glass that doesn't shatter?'
When the prospect says, ‘I don't believe it,' I put the glass on the counter, bringing down that ball-peen hammer hard on the glass. The prospect reacts instinctively, shielding his eyes from the inevitable shattering of glass that is to follow. Of course, the glass doesn't shatter, and the customer is impressed.
“Wow!” says the customer, “That's incredible!”
Then I'd say, ‘How much of it would you like?' And I'd pull out my order pad and start writing the order.”
A demonstration can be far more memorable than words
Usually, words tend to be flat and uninteresting. For instance, someone might say, “I help photographers tell stories”. Or, “I show people how to cook tasty Indian meals in minutes”. These are word-based responses that don't tell a story.
A demonstration, however, needs to have a storyline.
Take, for example, the story at the top of this article.
I have a jug of water and a glass. I pour the water into the glass, and I drink it. Then, I pour another glass, and I drink it. Then, yet another, and I drink it. You're watching me drink glass after glass of water, and a thought crosses your mind.
You wonder: where is this going?
And here's how the “pitch” would roll out.
A person speaking: There's a problem with how businesses work. There's a feast or famine. When we get clients, we get a lot of clients, and it's overwhelming, but we have to keep going.
However, we often get to the end of the feast, and there's no more work for a while. And then I'd go on to talk about how you could use marketing to control the feast or famine.
The concept wasn't complex, and there was a story.
This means your demonstration needs to have a story
Febreze is a billion-dollar brand for Procter and Gamble, and they still use demonstrations. In one ad, a woman sits happily on a couch with her cat right next to her. The VoiceOver says, “Sadly, Angela's gotten used to the odour the cat leaves on the couch. She no longer smells it. Yup, she's gone NOSE BLIND.” We staged an intervention to help her sister break the news.
At this point, a couple of guys enter the room and take Angela's couch away.
When we return, we see her sister and Angela look at the new couch. Instead of the typical sofa, you'd expect, it's been transformed into the shape of a giant cat: giant head, giant paws, even giant eyes. And yes, there are about six other cats on and about the cat couch.
“This is exactly what your house smells like,” says Angela's sister to her.
“For real?” asks Angela, quite taken aback. “Yes”, comes the swift answer. Then they both laugh, while Angela is still very much in shock at how the world sees—or rather, smells—her house. At which point, Febreze comes to the rescue, and everyone lives happily ever after.
Febreze is a boring product, isn't it?
It's a deodorising liquid of some sort. There isn't anything dramatic or even fancy about it. Yet, the advertising has to create some sort of drama that brings out the story. When you look at advertising, especially on T.V., you'll notice that the ones that get the message across are those that have a demonstration, and it's often not even 2 minutes long. Or even a minute. In 30 seconds, you can tell a story by using demonstration as a technique.
However, there's a reason why you have two different methods to get your message across.
It's one thing to have a ball-peen hammer or Febreze story. It's much harder to get the same level of impact when you're relating the story. The demonstration story seems to work best when it's demonstrated. Using the puzzle as a method means you can create the puzzle even while trying out that so-called elevator pitch.
Since the puzzle is mostly mental, it doesn't require props.
It's important to note that the puzzle method brings up a lot of questions, while the Febreze story starts with questions but usually ends with a fairy tale ending. Having both ways at your disposal means you can talk about your product or service when you're in entirely diverse locations or scenarios.
Sales is a transfer of enthusiasm from one person to another.
With the demonstration, you're telling a story, and that's a lot easier to recount with enthusiasm than some dull script. With the puzzle, you are also tying the concept up in knots, much like a riddle.
It's far easier to be enthusiastic about these methods without ever trying too hard. A script, on the other hand, feels forced and clunky. The moment you think you have to act like a show pony, you lose the joy, and it's a lot harder to sell anything. The client feels no warm breezes of enthusiasm, and they move on to something more interesting.
Hence, if you want your two-minute, one-minute or thirty-second message to stand out, use a demonstration or a puzzle. And remember that no one is interested in the company. They're only buying “a product” or “a service”.
It's time to get your pitch together and have fun selling your product!