So, the superannuation fund is interested. You’ve shown that you understand their goals and have the ability to help achieve them. You know all about them and they want to know more about you. Don’t blow it now. Be madmen Advertising is not as sophisticated as business pitching but it teaches powerful lessons. You should make your pitch, or overture, with the same purpose as an advertiser on primetime television. After all, you have only a few brief minutes to capture your audience’s attention and convince them that your offer is worth paying for. Advertising works because it appeals to the self-interests of audiences: the heart-breaking truth is these stakeholders really don’t care about you. The only reason they listen is the possibility that you have something they want. Having millions of dollars on the table gives them that right. As you review your finished draft, pretend you’re the client. Ask yourself so what?’ and in response, highlight benefits that a superannuation fund will care about.
Be prepared to resort to supporting information in case a fund finds any of these strengths unconvincing. Successful sales pitchers leave their egos at the door and remember that: • benefits win hearts • facts win minds • pitches linking these win business If your pitch is in written form, consider using “word cloud” software to analyse your finished draft. This will visually convey the themes of your writing. A well-written pitch refers to the prospect frequently, and word clouding will make your use of language obvious – sometimes painfully (see figure 1). This cloud is generated from a real, slide-based pitch. The manager’s identity has been hidden to save crimson faces. “Acme” mentioned themselves 86 times, used “us/our” six times, and referred to the client once, on the first slide. (It is somewhere in the cloud, but too small to see). “University” is prominent because the first six-to-seven slides were devoted entirely to staff credentials, in which their various degrees were listed. Figure 1. Word clouds don’t lie Naturally, making the super fund the focal point of a pitch demands some extra effort. In fact, doing it properly may require a subtle tweaking of your entire pitch process: adjusting the focus of covering letters or the contents of a presentation. But that effort is the reason you’re more likely to succeed: most of your competitors simply won’t bother.
Remember to KISS The early stages of a relationship are delicate. First-date nerves can hijack the conversation. They can make people waffle and offload their life story warts-and-all, or fall quiet. Neither strategy works in pitches, but striking a balance is tricky. Your key messages must stand out and be remembered, but providing detailed data establishes credibility. Getting the mix right is about remembering to KISS: keep it short and simple. Make it Minto Back in 1987, business educator Barbara Minto identified a valuable principle: ideas are communicated best when presented in a pyramid structure. To demonstrate, let’s compare novels with newspapers. Most novels use an upside-down pyramid configuration (see figure 2). Background, people, locations and plotlines are established over many pages. As they move towards their conclusions, plotlines weave these elements together before reaching grand finales. This delights us, because the whole point of the novel is the journey to the conclusion. Newspaper articles are structured differently. They convey major points in headlines and readers find detailed information in the bodies of stories. Skilled journalists are trained to write so that a story can be edited from the bottom up without destroying its essence. Sadly, many business communications read like novels. Perhaps you’ve endured presentations that start with a funds manager’s history, assets under management, client base, office locations and key staff.