Whether you realize it or not, we’re always pitching something to someone. That someone might be a new client, board member, colleague or even a spouse, and there are proven techniques that work for all of them.

There is nothing worse than being pitched something that you do not need (this also includes ideas you don’t agree with or believe). Using the four tips below, you can start to pitch smarter and get the “yes” you want no matter who the client.

1. It’s Not About You

It’s always about them.  Many people think they need to jump into the spotlight and deliver a pre-planned, dog and pony show to get the “yes.”  This one-sided method (and stressful belief) of pushing the concept or product on a client doesn’t work. To achieve a truly successful pitch, you must switch your mindset, and shift the meeting to being all about them

Instead, focus more on the person in front of you and what they need—and how you can help them succeed.  This simple mindset change will transform the pitch dynamic, take the pressure off of you, and make the client feel both seen and heard. Suddenly your “pitches” will feel more authentic, and more like “discussions” aimed at helping your client.  

2. Set Goals

Before every pitch, make sure to always set both a primary goal and a secondary goal. 

  • To determine the primary goal, you need to ask yourself: what does a “win-win” look like? What is possible? 
  • The secondary goal, which is even more critical, is to build a relationship

Keeping this secondary goal in mind automatically transforms the focus of your pitch to having fun, creating connections, solving problems, and leaving your client thinking, “Wow! I want to do business with this person.” 

This secondary goal is crucial because pitching is all about timing. Although today may not be your day to get that “yes,” building a rapport with the client makes the next meeting that much easier and gets you one step closer to a future yes. Retaining clients is always easier and less costly than acquiring new ones. So make the aim of every pitch a chance to turn a client into a long-term partner.

3. Do Your Homework

Before any pitch, always make sure to understand both the person you are meeting with and the company itself. You can begin by doing a deep dive on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and Google to find information well beyond what you can find on their website. 

Try to pick up information on corporate culture, news (good or bad), icebreakers, and more. You may even find the key to creating a deeper connection with the client through a shared interest. Having this knowledge will greatly pay off in your pitch by helping you adjust your content based on what you uncover before the meeting so that you can connect more genuinely with the client during the meeting. Through this simple technique, you can find natural commonalities with your client and build greater trust and rapport to get the “yes.”

4. Ask Questions

This is a game changer.  Before revealing even a hint of your pitch, ask questions first. Things are constantly changing in the world, and you may think you know what your client wants, but until you ask them point-blank, then you won’t truly know.

Here are some good questions to start with:

  • What’s working? And what’s not? 
  • How’s the re-org?
  • How’s the new CEO? 
  • What do you need?

Their answers to these questions will help you adjust your pitch (on the fly) to better suit their actual needs— and your odds of getting a “yes” increase dramatically when you know what they want, and what they don’t want. This vital info will allow you to focus your pitch on the elements that will appeal to them, while avoiding the things that are deal-breakers. So ask questions and adjust your pitch accordingly.  Even if that means not pitching.  

Yes, that’s right.  Remember your secondary goal (build a relationship) and sometimes you’ll have to avoid pitching when the answers to your questions make pitching a bad decision that will be perceived as tone-deaf to the discussion you’ve just had. It’s not an easy decision when you have worked so hard on a concept or product that you genuinely believe in, but there is no sense in pitching someone who doesn’t need or want what you’re selling. 

Key Takeaways

Worse than getting a “no” from a client is being perceived as a pushy salesperson, and not a partner who listens and understands their clients’ needs. You want to make sure that the next time you call on that client, their door is open, and they are excited to see what you have to share. Remember, pitching is all about timing and building relationships. Play the long game, tailor your pitch accordingly, and the “yes” will surely come.

Want to learn how to craft a successful pitch or need consulting for more in-depth advice? Harry is an award-winning TV producer, pitching guru, and speaker who inspires people to think creatively about business.