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No matter what you decide to pursue for your life, at some point we all have to pitch something.
Heck, I feel like we’re pitching ourselves everyday in one way or another.
The thing is that we often only have one chance to leave a lasting impression. And those first few moments can be the difference between getting all the things we desire or staying in the same exact position before we step to the plate.
In this episode, master pitch-man Oren Klaff comes on the show to teach his innovative method for presenting and persuading. He’s the best selling author of the book Pitch Anything and has raised billions of dollars to help take companies public….this guy knows his stuff.
What’s cool about Oren’s method is that it’s a repeatable process that anyone can use in a plethora of situations.
Whether you’re trying to sell a product or convince your boss you need a promotion, you. can use this method. There’s a ton of value in this episode and I have to say Oren’s approach is unique.
Okay, I’ve done enough talking…tune in below to hear how to Pitch Anything!
Orenism: “The moment you introduce features and benefits the only place you can go is price which is why your narrative has to come before all that” click to tweet
What You’ll Learn By Listening
What to say to someone in the first 30-60 seconds of meeting them
Why building rapport is not as effective as establishing status in many situations
The three traditional ways you can establish status
How to position yourself in a way where you can still be likable while indicating status
Why grabbing and holding attention is the key to convincing power
The power of “prizing” and how to pull this off
Why you should never start off a pitch by introducing features, benefits, and your value proposition
How and when to talk about competition in a pitch
The most beneficial thing you can do to be more aggressive in your pitching
Listen to the episode here:
Subscribe on Itunes for more interviews or Listen on Stitcher
Thank Oren for dropping knowledge on us (tweet Oren here)
Mindshare segment at the end:
Some open thoughts about why on probably the busiest day of the year I still went to the gym and meditated. I think this is a super important lesson for myself and hopefully others.
Links & Resources Mentioned:
For more on Oren check him out at his Book: Pitch Anything: An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading, and Winning the Deal , Pitch Anything and on Twitter @pitchanything
Other resources mentioned:
On Intelligence – by Jeff Hawkins & Sandra Blakeslee
*You’ll find a full searchable transcript below
Music Credit: Carousel Games & Stay Awake
Searchable Transcript of This Oren Klaff Interview:
Scott: Oren, what’s up man, how’re you doing?
Oren Klaff: Scott, I’m doing well today; you know it’s another busy one so, as you said two seconds ago, let’s light it up.
Scott: Let’s light it up man, I love it — I can feel the energy already and Oren on this show, lot of shows, they kind of start off slow, I want to get right in the meat here and I know that one of the things in your book that I love ‘Pitch Anything’, is how people should present themselves. And whether you have a product or you don’t have a product, presenting yourself and pitching yourself is something that we are going to have to do and everybody is going to have to do at a ton of different moments in our lives.
So I thought, instead of giving a grand, verbose introduction to you, you could present yourself to our listeners and then we could go and break that down and maybe codify some of the key principles there.
Oren Klaff: Yeah sure and the listeners, you guys don’t have to worry too much about me and my background is pretty simple; I’ve raised a couple billion dollars from investors and unlike sort of a team that you might have at Goldman Sachs who raises that much money in a month or a quarter, I don’t do it on a team of 30 people. I do it on my own and I sit across some investors, look in the whites of their eyes and I ask them for one million, five million, ten million, 100 million dollar checks. I regularly meet with billionaires, ask them for money and get it and I am a very traditional, in that sense, investment banker and I help companies raise the money they need to grow.
So, that’s what I do every day and the reason I have a book, the reason I’m in this interview is rather than go to conferences and take people to have lunches and hockey games, or what happens in order to find companies to buy and sell, people read my book, hear this interview and they say ‘hey Oren, come help me sell my company’. So this is my marketing mechanism and it’s much more enjoyable than being away from my family at dinners with people I don’t know and don’t like. So, that’s the backgrounder but so — yeah on this topic of pitching I mean what’s near and dear to my heart is, nearly every day of the week or 20 days in the month, I either have to walk into a room or get on to Skype or a phone call with people who don’t know that much about me, don’t care that much and starting from almost absolute ground zero; many can’t even remember why they agreed to take the phone call or come to the meeting.
Explain to them who I am, what the deal is, why they should be excited about it, what’s happening and try and leave that phone call or that meeting with having them want and be excited about what I have.
Scott: Oren, you have my attention with you, that’s for sure.
Oren Klaff: Yeah, well actually I should write that one down the intro seems to change from time to time but when you know your fundamentals, you can talk about it with whatever words come to your head, the fundamentals are all the same. So fundamentally, when you get on a phone call, what are the things that you do in the first two minutes and the first three minutes and that’s what a lot of people want to know, in order to get people’s attention, hold people’s attention and get them wanting what you have?
And that’s I think — in my experience of having done this thousands of times, it’s very counter-intuitive for what you may have read, what you may have been taught; if you have worked at a Fortune 500 or Fortune 2000 company or worse, if one of your mentors which is more likely, came out of a Fortune 500 or a Fortune 2000 you’d likely have been indoctrinated in some really bad habits and bad mannerisms that are likely when a meeting starts or a phone call starts to move you backwards rather than forwards. And one of those — and I don’t want to get right off the bat in a conflict with you Scott, so -
Scott: I mean, I got my dukes up over here but I’m ready to hear what you have to say man.
Oren Klaff Interview: And by the way, I like your email, there’s lots of good stuff in here, I have one printed out that I particularly liked, ‘how to prevent prospects from going cold – part 1′ but the one thing that I take umbrage with in Tony Robbins, who is sort of a purveyor of this thinking, I think it shows up on one of your emails is this idea of rapport which I hate. Because in the first couple of minutes, there’s so many other important things to get control of other than rapport and ultimately the world I live in, people may be in different worlds, it’s high stakes.
When we go to a meeting, it’s serious, there’s real guys there, they can make decisions. If we spend a bunch of time farting around saying ‘you came from Chicago, yeah, my girlfriend used to live in Chicago, we used to go to the Bears games, one of the Bears is going to get a quarter back, wasn’t it cold this year? Yeah, the spring seemed to break late this year, the Great Lakes seemed to freeze a little bit earlier, wasn’t it nice when we were kids to drive trucks across it?’ Nobody is going to buy your deal, give you a purchase order and ultimately decide to invest with you in whatever form because your sister and their sister went to the same college. It’s ludicrous. So people do that as a form of light orientation because they don’t know what else to do and it works.
But it works at the minimum — in a very, sort of — it’s the least effective of all the things that you can do early on in a presentation and it’s sort of the weakest default position is to shoot for rapport. So anyway, those are some initial ideas on when you get in front of people and get ready to tell them about your ideas which you have and your products and whatever it is.
Scott: So, what should you shoot for? I mean, what are the key — what’s the key point I need to get this across or what is the question that you’d ask yourself to figure out like what do I say to this person in the first 30-60 seconds of meeting them?
Oren Klaff Interview: Yeah, tattoo this on your arm; the thing to shoot for is status, not rapport. People listen to, pay attention and well regard the things that are said by high-status individuals. Now, if you think about it and a lot of this I’ve wrote about extensively in the book, there are really three ways to establish status. One is wealth, one is power — so wealth, the boxer Mayweather — I’m a 300 million-dollar boxer, I command 300 -400 million dollars and I have wealth. That is high-status position. I have power; I am the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that is another high-status position and the third is a celebrity.
So, I’m Brad Pitt, that is a high-status position; those are the traditional high-status positions. When Brad Pitt talks, when the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff talks, people listen and when Floyd Mayweather speaks, people listen because the guy controls 400 million dollars and is a celebrity. So those are the traditional paths to status but you can, starting from almost nothing, establish great status for yourself by something I call local star power. So you can, without having those traditional sources of status, establish high status for yourself very quickly and you should do that as quickly as possible because again, people pay attention to high-status individuals. And ultimately, attention is what you are driving for.
Because I think, Scott, the best salesman and the worst salesman and the most of the middle-of-the-road salesman, business development guy, executive, startup guy or whatever can sell almost anything if people are paying attention for long enough. I think the problem with most presentations or ideas is that the presenter loses the attention of the audience too quickly and doesn’t have enough time to be convincing. So tattoo on your other arm, attention equals convincing power. So if you can immediately, in the first minute, raise your status, people will pay attention to you longer than they would have otherwise and your chances of being convincing go way up.
Scott: Got it. So I want to talk about the status thing for a second because I’m curious; a lot of times I encounter people and they come in and they talk about the castles they have built, all these things that I don’t even ask them about and I think they come off like total tools. And I guess maybe it’s a separate conversation in terms of making friends and getting deals done but is there a way to position yourself where you can still be likeable but indicate the status; is there a formula for that?
Oren Klaff: Sure, so there’s definitely a formula for different people with different situations; I’ll try and give a generic one that people can refine. So first of all, setting a time constraint on yourself is a very high-status perspective. So if I were to come to a meeting, I’d say hey guys — and so this is a meeting let’s say I tried really hard for, I worked for three months to get the meeting, it’s with a billionaire and they said, hey, come in or let’s get on a phone call, I would start that phone call by saying — and in fact it’s true, ‘guys, I’m really busy, I’ve got about a maximum of 35-40 minutes today and so what I would like to recommend, I know we’ll wait for a couple of stragglers for this call, but the principles are here. Let’s get it kicked off now and take advantage of the time we have.’
And then they’ll say, ‘yeah, that sounds good’ and then they’ll say, ‘how much do you know about our group and XYZ capital investment partners, why don’t we start off telling you about ourselves?’ And I’ll say, ‘hey guys, I want you to hold off in telling me about yourselves, I know you guys have invested in a very broad range of companies, products; you’ve done amazing stuff over the years and just typing your name on the internet fills the first 20 pages of Google. So you guys are great, we know that. Why don’t you hold off on telling me about yourself, I’ll tell you about our project, our idea, what we have and then you can tell us about yourself in context of our project.
I think that would put in focus, it’ll provide efficiency to this call and we can do the most amount of work in the least amount of time. If you are agreeable, why don’t I start?’ So Scott, you see there, we’re doing a lot of things. We’re letting them — so most investors or buyers get on the phone and they know that if they give the seller two hours, the seller will take two hours because we as sellers know that the longer we spend on the phone, sort of the more time that we have to be convincing and the more likely we are to sell something. The problem is, buyers don’t like to be on the phone for two hours, they don’t like to be on the phone for an hour, they barely like to be on the phone for 20 minutes hearing about something.
So you can achieve incredibly high status by providing a time-constraint and then stopping people from wasting time and letting them know how important your time is and the second you let them know how important your time is, and you say ‘I’ll allow you guys to talk about yourselves in a few minutes’, you start to gain what I would call ‘frame control’ over the conversation. Now you are starting to control the lens through which they see you, your product, your company and your ideas. And that’s ultimately what you want, is to control the focal lens through which they see you so they see the story that you think is best. They don’t have to make up a story about you from a bunch of information that you are going to give them.
So then if you move forward on the theme of how to create high status, I would introduce to you this word ‘prizing’. So, all of this is to build upon the idea or to communicate to the buyer, that you are the prize, that their money is just a commodity which is backwards from the way that most people think about it. Most people think about it is you go in to a seller, or you get on a phone with a seller and their money or their purchase order is the prize to be won. And so you do a dog-and-pony show to win the prize of their money. That’s why buyers sit back and they say, ‘hey tell us what you have’ and they let you present. And the job of your presentation is to win the prize.
So, I think following the theme of raising your status, the job is to communicate to the buyer that you are the prize, that what you have is valuable, that your time is valuable and all they have is money and lots of other people have money. Money is one of the most basic, easiest to get commodities in the world. What you have is incredible, it’s rare and only you have it once you leave the call, once you leave the room, once you leave the communication, it’s gone and it’s difficult to get back. So they better take advantage of the time that they have with you and so your following question, even may be or it should be, ‘well crap, how do I do all that?’ [Laughter]
Scott: You pretty much nailed it.
Oren Klaff: So, there’s lots of ways to do it but I can give you the easiest one.
Scott: Yeah, let’s start with the basics.
Oren Klaff: To convince people that you are the prize and that their money is the commodity, the first step is to introduce to them the idea that the business you are in, the product that you represent, the ideas that you have are happening in a major change or a flux in the industry. So if I was going to sell you — I mean, name any product.
Scott: If you are going to sell me a podcasting microphone.
Oren Klaff: Anything. If I was going to sell you a podcasting microphone, by the way which is something I know nothing about, so what’s interesting is, we wanted to talk to you little bit today about podcasting microphone and know that this is something that really affects your business. It’s the quality of the stream and the resonant tone of your voice as it comes through to your listeners. What’s interesting today is over the last year, maybe say two years, the state-of-the art in microphones has changed dramatically. What used to be the best of the best two-three years ago is no longer the case. Three things have changed; there’s been a breakthrough in the size of the microchips that you can now use in audio devices. So the device size has come way down which brings the cost down.
Secondarily, the bit-rate at which the devices can now stream is up five times than what it was couple of years ago and last, everybody in the industry has agreed on a protocol. So these three sweeping changes have completely changed which devices are relevant, which are the best, what the [Inaudible 0:17:12] structure is and it’s much more complicated picking a device than it was even 12 months ago.
Scott: I really like that, I’m just thinking out loud here because I think a lot of people just tend to push features and you could have just said that this microphone is five times smaller or it’s three times faster, but instead you’re kind of like sucking me into this convolution of different factors and creating this story and world that is much more intriguing than you’re just rattling off features.
Oren Klaff: Yeah, hear me out and I don’t mean to be sort of demanding in my voice. The moment you introduce features and benefits and a value proposition, the only place you can go is price. We all have to introduce features, benefits, value proposition and move on to price, we can’t allude that halfway but your narrative has to come before features benefits and value proposition because if you try and introduce narrative afterwards or the story or the context or the frame or the viewpoint or the lens or whatever you want to call it, the cat is already out of the bag. They are already into a price negotiation and it’s very difficult to overlay a narrative or a story over a price negotiation.
It’s moving backwards and so the progression is pretty simple; for the high-status pitch, forget about rapport, forget about Tony Robbins, forget about Donald Trump, forget about ABC Selling, Zig Ziglar died, Tom Hopkins is 85 years old; those things are no longer relevant in the new world age and forget about rapport. The big idea, what is changing, why what you do is difficult, the problem, who else solves the problem you do; let people know that there is other legitimate solutions out there and your solution and its uniqueness. What’s different about that progression is that your solution and its uniqueness comes maybe 40%, 50%, 60% percent into the presentation. Let’s say it’s a 20-minute presentation, I usually don’t get to the solution, features, benefits and value proposition until I’m at least halfway through the entire presentation.
Scott: Now I’m curious –
Oren Klaff: If you get on the phone and say, like most guys — I’ll just finish my thought; ‘hey guys want to tell you about our new microphone, so it’s got a chip set that does better sound conditioning, it’s got more resonant vocal parameters, and it filters at a higher bandwidth and outputs to the current state protocols. And by the way, it’s about the same price as the old class which is not nearly as good and we ship really quickly and bend over backwards for our customers’. So most people start off with that in the first 30 seconds and then you go, ‘how much is it?’
And there’s nowhere to really go from there which leaves you control of the conversation. So I know I hit you with a lot of big topics simultaneously but this is important to understand structurally how to raise your status, hold attention and be able to frame how the buyer sees you in terms of what you have and who you are.
Scott: I appreciate it, you totally out-framed me there in the beginning just keeping the conversation going and I love it. I guess I’m curious, I know that a lot of the stuff that you talk about I mean it works because you’ve seen it work but it’s also backed by science in a way that our brain processes information. And I want to know, what specifically should people be aware of and if they are doubting this method, biochemically, in just like the way our neuroscience works, that actually supports this method?
Oren Klaff: Sure, so I think there’s two things to attack on that front. One is, it’s important to recognize I probably see a thousand companies a year because I represent companies to sell them and raise money for them so therefore, I choose companies to work with. A lot comes to reading my book and hear podcasts like this and they say, ‘hey Oren, I’d like you to consider raising 10-30 million dollars for our company so we can grow’.
So I see hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of pitches and they almost all start with the back story; how John and Sam met at college and they decided to become biochemists together. During their career in biochemistry, they worked with Nobel prize-winner at Columbia Medical School and went to John’s Hopkins where they worked in the lab there and invented a new kind of lens which can understand molecules at a higher frequency than previously done. So they started a microscope company which then went on to get as its main customer, DuPont.
So the story sort of unfolds, it’s not a pitch; what they are doing is relating the narrative as it is stored in their brain. So there’s a great book that in addition to my book, I recommend to everybody, it’s called ‘On Intelligence’ and it explains how the brain actually stores information. It’s by the founder of the palm-computing; he’s a brilliant guy, a brain researcher. And so the brain stores information sequentially; watch, if I tell you, Scott recite the alphabet backwards from G to A, you can’t do it because it’s not how you learnt the alphabet. If I say sing ‘row row row your boat’ from the middle of the song backwards, you can’t do it, you didn’t learn the song that way.
So unless we somehow trained ourselves otherwise, we relate stories, narratives, ideas in the way that it was stored in our mind which is sequential, chronologically. That’s why pitches primarily suck if they haven’t been planned out because people come in and they tell the story from the point that it started, which is the most boring part of it. So you got to think about how your story was stored in your mind, it was stored in your mind chronologically and that’s how you are probably telling it.
Scott: Yeah, right now I’m actually thinking about all the podcasts that I have listened to and ones that I have done myself to be totally candid where it’s like all right, here’s the story of this guy’s career and that’s going to be the podcast. Sort of like giving me what’s going to captivate my attention right off the bat like you said.
Oren Klaff: Yeah, where do you start? Not where you went to college and where you met your business partner 10-15 years ago or the idea you had — that is not an interesting starting point. What’s interesting is the big idea. By its virtue, big ideas are big; what’s in them is what you are working on. That is high stakes that is economically valuable, that is moving within a changing industry and has a chance to at least a better than zero chance of becoming something important, relevant and a large economic company or idea. That’s the big idea. By the way, we have a compilation on our website of 12-14 really well-sorted out big ideas in almost every industry. So real estate, software, web, philanthropy, manufacturing, line-manufacturing, we’ve done almost every industry.
So the big idea is important and so I mean if we just formed in a minute or less a big idea — for your podcast, we’ll go something like this; ‘today, there are hundreds of podcasts across the internet. Nearly everybody has one — your dog probably has a podcast while you are away for work. But most of them are people talking and the significance is nearly nothing. If you had a podcast that dug into what makes some of the most successful business people in today’s world, we’re doing a lot of transactions, making a lot of money using leading-edge methods. And if you could interview those people and pull out of them the most interesting aspects of their business that was doable by you, so you could also learn and do some of that stuff, then you’d have a podcast of merit.
It would be worth listening to, it would be worth saving and it would be worth sharing with people. That today, you’re about to listen to that podcast, I’m Scott Britton and this is the law of Lifelong Learner podcast in which we do exactly that and the economics could mean millions or hundreds of millions to those companies listening’. I just formed that off the top of my head in 60 seconds or less. You have to agree that at least it’s a big idea that sets the stage that there’s important things going on here and there’s high stakes and it’s economically important.
Scott: Yeah, I like that and it’s actually I think fits in nicely with one of the things that you talk about in your book, which is novelty.
Oren Klaff: For sure, so under novelty I’d say, look people come to meetings, they take phone calls, they listen to podcasts because they want to hear something new, meet new and interesting people and get colorful ideas into their mind that they previously didn’t have. If you started a podcast or a TV show or whatever it is, off with ‘hey, I’m going to spend the next 20-30 minutes telling you about some stuff that you probably already know’ then you certainly don’t have novelty, you lose people’s attention and once you’ve lost their attention, you can see the progression, you have no convincing power and they don’t come back.
So novelty satisfies the basic need of wanting to meet new people, learn new things and hear about colorful new ideas that are — to paint the world — to provide some additional perspective on the world we live in. So that’s my fanciful description on the importance of novelty. So the big idea has to introduce novelty, I would think — I’d give you another way to try and understand that. So you move from the big idea into what’s changing. So if we tie this back into this idea of neuroscience and what’s happening with the actual brain, a huge amount of the human mind, your mind, the brain inside your head, you put your hands in your head you get an idea, that’s 450 cubic centimeters of cerebral mass, a huge amount of that 450 cubic centimeters is dedicated to detecting change.
That is how we survived. On the African Savanna, couple of hundred-thousand years ago, when we turned from Proto-Human into Homo Sapiens and we started — we came out of the trees and we started running across African Savanna looking for something to eat, something to mate with and somewhere safe to stay in the night. The only way to survive from one day to the next is detecting change, because trees were not threatening, grass was not threatening, clouds were not threatening unless they moved; so things that moved were threatening to our survival and we dedicated most of the 60% to 80% of our brain matter to detecting change. So if you don’t characterize things in terms of change, the physical nature of our brain isn’t attracted to it, if that makes sense to you.
Scott: Yeah, so let’s give another concrete example outside of my podcast mic; what’s a deal recently that you’ve seen where you see things shifting in the industry and that was something that you made sure to highlight?
Oren Klaff: So this is — actually it’s a shame that we are not doing a screen-share here but so are you familiar with the GoPro camera company?
Scott: Am I ever? I love that thing.
Oren Klaff: Okay, so that sucks because we are the banker and I’m the representative of their direct competitor which is a camera called Contour.
Scott: I mean, I’m open to better options.
Oren Klaff: Okay. So the Contour camera, if you type it in while I’m talking, is a totally different form factor. It’s cylindrical. So when the GoPro and the Contour first came out, that was a big change because it gave people the ability to have a rugged, action-sports camera to capture — waterproof so it could capture downhill mountain biking, water-crafting, snowboarding, surfing and those kinds harsh environments where you wouldn’t put your phone or a different type of a camcorder. So that’s the benefit or the value proposition of those. So the GoPro which is a box, which if you have seen it and it’s kind of like a small shoebox was a good first entrant into that market.
Came into the market and has grown to about two billion dollars of these GoPro action-sports cameras. Over the last two to three years, there’s really been a sea-change in that industry. What’s happened is that in the first generation you’ve used the GoPro to get video of what was in front of you and you don’t really appear in the video. What’s changed is, today, it’s so easy to mix video, almost every video by a weekend athlete, amateur athlete or a professional athlete includes the athlete mixed into the video because the change is it’s easy today to mix video to music. That used to be hard, today, it’s easy. When you see videos of yourself wearing a GoPro camera, you look a little bit dorky; it’s — for those who are not familiar with it, it’s a small shoebox at the end of a stalk.
And it looks a little bit way on the end of geek-dom. By comparison, the camera that I represent is the Contour and it is a beautiful, cylindrical shape. The GoPro is like the PC and the Contour and its beautiful cylindrical shape is like the Mac. And the cylinder attaches to the side of your helmet and it looks very natural, organic, almost beautiful as opposed to the GoPro, which is this shoebox stalk sticking above your helmet. So the change in the market in which people want to see themselves in the video, in addition to the footage that they are filming, has really changed the entire market for how people buy these cameras because they want to look good in the video.
Scott: Got it, I have a lot of questions after listening to that and one of the main ones is you made it very apparent to contrast the existing market-leader or maybe what a lot of people have or that aren’t familiar with the Contour and I mean is that something that people should — was that intentional, was that something that people should focus on when they are pitching as to outright compare their products to the incumbents in the market?
Oren Klaff: For me and I see in your emails too, it’s important to create high contrast between what you have and what other people have. And I say this — so in terms of like the investment banking services that I — ‘hey look we do something very unique, if you want a big bank Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Houlihan Lokey and you need that brand so you can tell people, ‘we hired Goldman Sachs to help sell our company’, then that is different from what we do. They have a big brand, they are credible. But you are a hundred-million dollar company you’re going to have the shitty, C-team at Goldman Sachs.
Their target client is a billion to five billion, that’s who they pay attention to, that gets the A-team. If you want Goldman Sachs, and you don’t mind using the C-D-E-F Team, then you go over there and you do that. Now, we’re expensive and we are slow because we do things carefully and when you are selling a company, it’s something you only do once. If you want the cheap version and you want it done fast, then you go somewhere else because we don’t do it cheap and fast’. And those are the real, functional choices in the market and you got to check within yourself, what’s important to you.
So if you say ‘hey Oren, your head is full of dead batteries right now. We think your brand, nobody recognizes and we want to have a big name on our deal’. Then I’ll tell you, ‘go to Goldman Sachs, do it over there and be happy’. Scott, if you think, ‘hey I don’t need the big brand but I just — I want it done cheap, I don’t have 2-3 million dollars to put up for this process, I heard it can be done for $250,000, that’s what I want to spend’, I’ll tell you, ‘go to the Cosco version, I know those guys over there, we’ll send you over there with a good referral, go over there and be happy’. But you got to tell me what you want. And I know you would recommend that in some of your email and your newsletters as well because I read it. So the reason that you introduce the competition is you can characterize yourself in contrast to them. And obviously you try and pick the point of contrast is the thing that you are great at.
Scott: Got it.
Oren Klaff: So in my case, we don’t have a world-known brand. We’re a small company and so we have to flush out what the intent of the buyer is. If they want to be represented by a global brand then I want to get rid of them fast. And so yeah, I think you have to highlight the competition in terms of strengths and weaknesses. In fact in my book, the entire last chapter is a case study of doing exactly this in a very big, billion-dollar presentation. And so that is definitely worth a read because we go through step by step, this exact process of picking up the competition, reframing them in terms of the things that you can’t do and telling people, ‘if that’s what you want, go work with them, because we don’t do that’.
Scott: Take me through the process of you deciding which points you are going to highlight and how you are going to position yourself. I mean is this something where you’re fighting for as much beforehand diligence as possible to get in ahead of these prospects? Or are you just saying, ‘this is who we are, this is what we do, either you are in or you are out’?
Oren Klaff: So, I want to stick to that question but this ties back to me to the subject of ‘hey get a drossier on your buyer, learn as much as about them as possible so you can tweak or refine your pitch to what that buyer likes’. For me, I’m not too concerned about what the buyer likes because we have what we have. If you sell podcast microphones, if you sell — you’re Dunder Mifflin and you sell pallets of paper, that’s what you have, how much tweaking can you do? So I think about it like this; the best rock musicians in the world, they get on stage and they give the rock concert that they give because it’s tuned to the basic human appeals. And they don’t go to Cleveland and say okay, what do the people in Cleveland like, or they don’t go to Miami and say, let’s put some Salsa flavor — Megadeath doesn’t go to Miami and say, there’s probably a high Latino population in the crowd, how can we put some Latin content into heavy metal? [Laughter]
They just go and give the music — so if you think about comedians, comedians maybe they tweak one joke or two but basically, it’s funny if it’s funny whether it’s Miami or Oregon or Kansas City or Southern California. And so you know — tying it back to your presentation, your presentation will work if it appeals to the basic human emotions. You shouldn’t have to do that much tweaking to it.
Scott: And a reminder on what those basic human emotions are again?
Oren Klaff: Angry, hungry and horny [Laughter]
Scott: You put it so eloquently [Laughter]
Oren Klaff: [Laughter] The three emotions of a man; angry, hungry and horny. I think it’s a larger conversation, maybe we come back here and sort of pulling the emotional levers of the human mind is a bigger conversation. So I want to revisit your basic question which was — so where do we start Scott, how do we get on this cul-de-sac?
Scott: I don’t know man, but there is one thing that is just very present with me right now and I mean anybody listening to this, you got a ton of conviction when you speak, you are clearly a confident dude and there’s probably a lot of people out there listening to this going ‘cool, this guy is good at pitching, obviously this works for him, he’s a natural’. I mean is this something that you either have or you don’t? Can this be taught?
Oren Klaff: So, what happens is people hear me on this kind of podcast and they go, ‘I believe that guy can pitch the living hell out of my product, he could raise money for my company, sell my company because he’s got this iambic pentameter, he’s got this approach, he understands how to get [Inaudible 0:40:59] he does this every day’. The reality is that this is a very simple structure; you don’t have to talk the way I’m talking. You could paint it, you can adapt it to your own tone, to your own style. I have CEOs that teach that are Indian, in Silicon Valley, engineers; to use that stereotype. And they give it in a very heavy English accent, they are very patient in their tone and calm and they are not excitable and they don’t have a ton of vocal intonation.
And they have incredible results raising money or doing business with this same approach because unlike sort of Tony Robbins who I have been picking on, this doesn’t require any motivation, this doesn’t require any will power. You can go into it depressed, unhappy with your life and sort of without a lot of exuberance or attitude. What’s important is, you give buyers the structure in which they buy as opposed to the structure which sellers want to sell. The structure that buyers want to buy is pretty simple, we talked about it here; the big idea; what’s changing in the market? Why is this relevant and why if I do nothing, will I lose? Why is the solution that you are presenting to me hard to do? What’s your solution? How does it work? What’s the value proposition? What’s the economic upside? What’s my downside protection and who’s the team doing it?
So you can do that structure in any tone, at any pace, in any language, with any accent, with any form of motivation or attitude and it will work with buyers because that’s how buyers like to hear narratives.
Scott: Got it.
Oren Klaff: So once you have command of that structure and you can layer on top of that the ability to raise your status very early in the presentation so you can hold people’s attention, and you learn how to frame yourself as the prize and the buyer is a commodity, then I think you have a fundamentally transformed ability to tell people about what you have; if that’s helpful and in service Scott, of your question.
Scott: It is helpful. My follow-up to that is, so you tell the story, you captivate the attention, you bring status, you answer these questions that we just outlined, what happens next?
Oren Klaff: So it’s very interesting; if you think about a traditional presentation that you give; you look for rapport, you introduce features and benefits, you talk about value proposition and then you trial close. So what’s happening this whole time along, is you’re walking very gingerly on rice paper to get rapport, being very nice, telling people about what you have, giving them the value proposition and then you go to the trial close and now you feel like you’ve imputed enough information into their minds that you can sort of go for in a little bit. When you say, ‘is that something Scott, that you think you’d be interested in? If I can ship you three podcast microphones here the next week one in silver one in blue and one in red; is that something you think you would be excited about or possibly want to discuss further?
And then Scott, you give your objections, ‘well, it is; the price is just a little bit high for me. I’ve already brought some microphones this year, I mean this sounds good for next year, I’m definitely going to do it, it’s just that, given the price-point, it’s something that I have to think about’. So now you got an objection, price. Now you start chasing down that objection, hunting down, trying to overcome it. So what happens is, in the traditional always be closing in ABC, Tom Hopkins, Zig Ziglar, Tony Robbins type sales presentation, as time goes by, you are getting more aggressive and at the end of the 45-60 minute meeting, you are now really overcoming objections, trying to conquer the prey, trying to take down the objections and get them to buy what you are trying to close.
And so the time that the meeting is over, the time that the buyer has been around for way too long, they’re burnt out, they are not paying attention any more, you are trying as hard as possible to close them and what they want to do, is leave. And these things are at odds with each other. So the way that I try and do it, is I try and be as aggressive as possible in the first 20 minutes when you have people attention, whey they want to be there, when they are excited about the proposition of learning what you have and providing them insight. Once you are done a pitch that is done in the way that a buyers like to buy, big idea-problem-solution-what’s changing-value proposition that kind of thing; when you are done that pitch and you have blown them away, because very few sellers organize their presentation in the way that buyers like to buy.
You can see what we have is really valuable, we could see why we are so busy, I’m the prize you are the commodity and basically your pitch is over. And you could say I’m so busy that Scott if you just gave me, for example, you could say some lines, ‘if you gave me a check right now, I’d have to give it right back to you because we have a limited supply of our product and my time and I don’t know enough about you. Why don’t you tell me what kind of customer you are? Let me learn a bit about yourself, do you like — for example your suppliers to make high margin? Do you value customer service which is something that is important to us? Do you re-order on a regular basis, I’d like to learn a little bit about what kind of customer you are before I just [Inaudible 0:47:03] take a purchase order and we become partners.
Because I want good partners; I want the people that I sell to, to let me make a good margin so I can provide good customer service and I can live a good life’. So for example Scott, if you said to me, ‘I only buy things at a wholesale price and I negotiate very hard, I don’t agree to reorder until the last minute and I like to get things cheap and I use a lot of customer service’, I would say, ‘I don’t want to sell you microphones. I don’t want you as a customer’. So I’d like to learn a little bit about you in the time that we have left and so in that way you can, with a great pitch, you still have time or a great presentation or a great way to frame your ideas. You still have time to do other things and those other things include affirming to the customer that you are the prize and that they need to earn their way into your good graces.
So, then we let the customer spend some time telling us about themselves about why they are a good customer and then we have a good platform to close from. And basically it goes like this, ‘it sounds like we’re a good fit, you want to make us a margin, you’re a good customer, we have a great product, why don’t we find a way to paper this and figure out what to do next? We can paper it or you can paper it, why don’t we just say, let’s start with three, we have a plain-vanilla contract, it’s really easy to look at and sign and if you are amendable, let’s just go ahead and do three and become partners and see where that takes us. We’ll send it over by email and let’s just call this a good — ‘[technical difficulty].
Scott: Oren, you there?
Oren Klaff: And I think we’re getting low on time here but if you want a way to summarize this, and so this last bit that explain in closing, you have to put yourself in a position that takes advantage and here we’ll talk about the fundamental levers of the human mind. People want what they can’t have; people chase that which moves away from them and people only value what they pay for. And so you have to put yourself in a position where those things the way that you are selling or the way you are presenting, those things are in fact true. They are chasing you, you got a price that you are not discounting and they value what they pay for and you’re holding back some things and making them want what you have because people want what they can’t have.
So I think that’s how you see the whole presentation come full cycle and how you end up closing with very low anxiety, low amount of pressure and a low amount of energy.
Scott: Man, I’ll tell you, you definitely sparked a lot of thoughts in my mind right now and I appreciate you providing this unique approach for that’s probably very different and contrasting to what a ton of people out there or even experienced sales people have been doing. And I encourage everyone to really go out there and give it a try. Oren, one of the last questions that I would like to finish off with is something that I ask every single guest and it’s pretty simple and it’s the name of the show, it’s what’s one thing that you do to get a competitive edge in your business or life? And this could be when you are pitching or it can be even just as you are trying to grow your current client base.
Oren Klaff: Yeah, so for me, what’s most important is to overstock my pipeline I can’t be aggressive with potential customers; it’s very difficult to be aggressive with potential customers and say, I have it and you don’t. If you want me, you can ask — you’d say, ‘Oren I love you and I want you to sell my company, I want you to raise money for me’ and in fact, Scott if you say, ‘Oren I like you or I’m interested in working with you’, it’s not good enough. You have to say it Scott, and I make people say, ‘Oren, I love you, I want to’ — not love, love but ‘I love the idea what — we really want to do this with you’. The only way that I feel confident enough to do that is by overstocking my — the upper part of my fund, in marketing terms.
So, if I overstock the number of people that want to work with me, then I can be aggressive enough with the deals that I am presenting, that I am not needy. Neediness kills all deals and so in order to not be needy, I make sure that my input funnel is bigger and flusher than the number of deals that I can possibly take. So that’s the one thing that is critical to me is having a big influx of potential deals.
Scott: You and my buddies who are dating coaches have a lot to talk about — [Laughter]
Oren Klaff: Yeah, exactly. I mean that’s exactly right. So if you only have one hot girl that is interested in you, you’d do whatever she says. ‘Bring me flowers, take me to the movies, babysit my cat, cancel your trip to the Megadeath concert with your buddies and take me out for Valentine’s Day’; you’d do all of that because you are afraid to lose her. If you have, like some of my buddies, who are athletes and professional athletes and great-looking guys and just have lots of women chasing them around, when one of them says, ‘cancel the fishing trip with your buddies and take me out for Valentine’s Day’, they say, ‘you have lost your mind, I am not doing that’ because they are not at risk to lose that particular deal.
Scott: Makes total sense.
Oren Klaff: Now that we have alienated your entire female audience, is there anything else we can pick on? Jews, Christians, Catholics — we did Indians –
Scott: You know what, [Laughter] I think we’ll save it for another day man but what I would love is for you just to tell everybody out there who is listening, the best place for them to go to get more information to get some of those case studies that you are talked about.
Oren Klaff: So definitely, buy the book ‘Pitch Anything’, it’s a couple of bucks on Amazon; that is a major body of work that we invested easily a quarter of a million dollars writing the book, had cognitive psychologists work on it. It’s a body of work that is meaningful and then the companion material to the book is at Pitch Anything dot com and there’s a lot of stuff there that won’t cost you anything and will move you if you are interested in doing things in a modern way, it’ll move you far down the road quickly.
Scott: Oren, thanks so much for your time and all the things that you have taught us today, I look forward to seeing you during some SEAL fit.
Oren Klaff: Yeah, bring it on here, let’s — 75 thrusters, 400m runs, burpee push-ups followed on by sandbag get-ups and a run on the beach, we are ready for you.
[End of transcript 0:54:23]
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How to Pitch Anything with Oren Klaff – TCE 021 is a post from: Life-Long Learner