Pitch Anything: An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading, and Winning the Dealby Oren Klaff
Pitch Anything contains a proven strategy for creating and presenting winning pitches based on the STRONG framework: Setting the frame, telling the story, revealing the intrigue, offering the prize, and getting a decision. When applied correctly, these strategies can help you become a master pitcher who can successfully close deals and negotiations!
“The better you are at advocating your position, the more successful you will be.”
Our brains have three parts: the crocodile brain, the mid-brain, and the neocortex. The croc brain is responsible for survival needs; the mid-brain determines meaning; the neo-cortex reasons out complex problems.
The person pitching is always working from the neocortex, the section of the brain responsible for high-function thinking, problem-solving, and comprehension. However, the audience will always listen from the croc brain, which is responsible for survival and protection.
When you pitch or request your customer to give you something, such as their time, money, or connections, their crocodile brain needs to quickly assess whether you are worthy of their valuable time, energy, and resources. Therefore, to deliver a successful pitch, you must assure the other person’s croc brain that you are trustworthy and have something they want. This will hook their attention long enough for their neo-cortex to kick in.
Actions to take
“A frame is the instrument you use to package your power, authority, strength, information, and status.”
Frame-based business uses social dynamics to stack things in your favor even before the pitch begins. In business, the frame is a picture of what you desire the interaction to be about.
Frames collide and battle for dominance, each trying to consume the other’s perspective to become the winning point of view in business. A successful pitch always maintains “frame control”; it governs the direction of the social interaction in an absolute way.
Think of a police officer giving a driver a speeding ticket, for example. As the driver watches the officer walk to the car, the driver comes up with who they want to frame themselves as—a nice guy who wants to win the officer over with charm, apology, and sweetness. But, the police officer isn’t affected or swayed at all and still issues the ticket. The frame of the police officer’s authority completely dominated the “nice-guy frame” to the point where it had no power or relevance. In business, frame dynamics always play out, but you have the advantage when you work with them.
Actions to take
“‘Your social value is fluid and changes with the environment you are in—or the environment you create.”
Status plays a critical role in framing dominance, i.e., determining who controls the decisions, perspectives, and outlook about the pitch’s value.
You want to control the narrative to position your pitch as the grand prize for anyone who invests in it. To do this, the audience must see you as having the highest status in the room. There are easy ways to create that during your pitch.
It’s essential to respect the social dynamics of alpha and beta at play during a pitch. The alpha has the highest social status in the room and calls the shots, gives the orders, and creates the outcomes they want with minimal effort. Everyone else is the betas who follow and defer to the alpha.
Think about the best pitches you’ve seen before. It’s highly likely that the person pitching there suddenly owns the room, with investors scrambling for the opportunity to give them everything they want. They have created situational status.
Actions to take
Pitching Your Big Idea
“When a person is feeling both desire and tension, that person is paying serious attention to what’s in front of him or her.”
The 1953 presentation introducing the world to the double helix DNA structure, widely considered the most significant scientific discovery of the twentieth century, took only five minutes to present. Can you imagine how that significant discovery can only be pitched fully in a few minutes?
Similarly, your full presentation needs only to be around twenty minutes. Any longer, and attention spans wane. To put your audience at ease, start the pitch by telling them you only have about fifteen minutes to share your big idea and take questions before you have to get to your next meeting.
To guide you with your presentation, here’s how you can organize your time into four sections:
1. In the first five minutes, introduce yourself and the big idea;
2. In the next ten minutes, explain the budget and secret sauce;
3. Give yourself two minutes to offer the deal and;
4. Stack frames for a hot cognition in the last three minutes.
Actions to take
Frame Stacking and Hot Cognitions
“The targets have given you their time because they want to visit a new world, to learn about new things and interesting ideas, and become involved in the lives of unique, interesting, and talented people.”
There are two types of cognition: hot and cold. Cold cognition uses hard analysis to create unemotional judgments. Hot cognition, on the other hand, makes you like something before you fully understand it. The goal of your twenty-minute pitch should be to create hot cognition in your audience.
To do this, you need to use frame stacking, in which you apply the four hot cognition formulas - intrigue, prizing, time framing, and moral authority - one after another.
The intrigue frame builds desire and introduces something the target wants but cannot get right now. It takes your idea from the abstract into a human narrative they can relate to. The prizing frame establishes you as someone in high demand, making your audience realize how fortunate they are to have access to you. The timing frame puts an immediacy on closing the deal. Lastly, moral authority creates wanting and desire for your product and is one of the most important steps in your entire pitch.
Actions to take
“Neediness is created inside of us when we firmly believe that the target can make us feel good by accepting our pitch and by saying “Yes.”
Any hint of neediness in a pitch reads like, “I’m holding a bomb that could go off any moment!” as it triggers self-protection. Pitching is not much different than dating in that confidence creates attraction. Therefore, the energy you bring to the end of your pitch is critical to closing the deal.
During your pitch, you may easily read a growing discomfort in your audience. This can trigger fear of losing the deal and cause you to fall into acceptance-seeking behaviors. In the face of possible rejection, the desire to cure it by seeking validation pops up.
Regardless of the current needs of your business, you must continue to present yourself as someone with abundant opportunities and major successes. Be honest about the particulars of the deal while maintaining a calm, poised demeanor all throughout.
Actions to take
Get in the Game
“This is a game where you set the rules and then change the rules as needed to maintain your continuous advantage without ever upsetting your opponent.”
Get in the Game is a method of interacting with people using basic rules of social dynamics. It is about respecting the croc brain by introducing a game and inviting others to play with you. The presenter’s job is to figure out what parts of the information to use that will enhance hot cognition and lower cold cognition.
Here, frame control is essential as it will help filter information, provide meaning, and bridge the natural disconnect between you and the audience. It simplifies complex concepts by highlighting what to focus on.
The two principles of social dynamics for a winning pitch are structural and procedural. You must structure your pitch to package information that generates hot cognition in the listener’s croc brain. You should also use visual and emotional stimuli to create wanting, and lastly, you should be aware of waning attention and attempts to seize the alpha status in the room. When pitching, humor and light-heartedness are essential. They indicate that you are confident and can have fun even in a high-pressure environment. This, in turn, can make people feel relaxed and playful. Therefore, it’s important to reassess your pitch and keep it joyful - after all, pitching is meant to be fun!
If you’re pitching to high-status investors, you must show up well-prepared and maintain a confident poise. This is because they can easily tell how different you are from the usuals who fall over themselves to defer and please them. They want to see people who are not so desperate to impress them and those who fully understand the value of the pitch to their company.
Finally, to achieve your business and leisure goals faster, you need to learn how to focus your full attention on what’s most important - human relationships - and shut out any environmental distractions around you.