Pitch Anything relies on tactics and strategies from a field called neuroeconomics to give you an entirely new way of presenting, pitching and convincing other people of your ideas and offers.
Oren Klaff had to make quite the journey to arrive at the insights he presents in this book. After devouring every book on marketing, blog post and online training he could find, even taking on a position as an analyst with a billionaire, and still not having found what he was looking for, he eventually discovered neuroeconomics.
This branch of psychology and science is entirely dedicated to studying how the human brain makes economic decisions and it provided him with the material he needed to well…pitch anything.
As a result, he came up with a way to sell stuff that’s not busy throwing facts at our rational computing software, but that instead focuses on the very irrational, basic principles our ancient brains rely on.
Here are 3 lessons to help you pitch and sell anything:
- Your pitch must speak to your audience’s neanderthal brain.
- Make yourself the prize.
- Use multiple so-called frames to trigger a gut decision inyour favor.
Whether you’re in baseball, singing, or selling, this’ll teach you the perfect pitch! Actually, maybe not for baseball or singing – but for presenting yourself as an MLB or Hollywood star for sure 🙂
Lesson 1: Make sure your pitch speaks to your audience’s ancient (kinda stupid) brains.
Our brains as they are today have evolved in three stages, leaving us with three levels to process stuff on.
The oldest one is what Oren calls the croc brain (short for crocodile), which is stupid, but efficient at keeping us alive. It reacts to new, exciting and potentially threatening cues in our environment and can trigger strong emotions. Seth Godin calls this lizard brain. If you have a freeze, fight or flight response to something, your croc brain is in charge.
The midbrain developed next, which helps process more complex visual and auditory information, enabling us to have social interactions with others. It also regulates complicated bodily functions like sleep and temperature.
Our neocortex was the very last part to develop and it’s what’s made the tremendous progress of civilization of the past 100 years possible. This part of your brain is in charge of abstract thinking, analyzing complex situations and logical reasoning.
When you’re pitching someone, you usually try to explain all these awesome, but complex features of what you’re selling. You’re using your neocortex to communicate – but this isn’t where your message first lands. Your target will first pick up whatever you’re presenting with their croc brain, which is why what you say must first of all be simple.
If you’ve ever been hit with a 180 page slide deck starting with complicated graphs and instantly zoned out, you know this is true. Instead, make sure you bring something new, exciting and positive to the table, so the croc brain will pass on the new inputs to system 2.
Lesson 2: Turn yourself into the prize, instead of chasing your target.
Once you have attention, it’s time to convince. And do you know what’s the most convincing? Someone who doesn’t try to convince us. If you can position yourself as the prize instead of the contestant, you’ve already won (pun intended).
This means showing your audience that while you want to work with them, you’re not desperate to sell and don’t depend on anyone. Part of this is to qualify your customers – why should you do business with them? What do they have to offer to you in exchange for your awesome product or service?
Manufacturers of luxury goods often do this by limiting units of handbags, or serving only a very small group of people. Car makers do a good job at this too. For example, even if you have the cash you can’t just walk into your local dealership and buy a Ferrari LaFerrari, McLaren P1, or even an M4 GTS. You need a pre-existing relationship with the company and in some cases have to agree to not sell the car for a while, have it serviced regularly, etc.
Don’t come across as someone who’s desperate for another sale. Know your worth and become the object of desire.
Lesson 3: To get people to make a gut decision in your favor, use multiple frames.
A core concept of Oren Klaff’s philosophy are so-called frames. You can think of them as lenses, through which we view any situation, and when people come together, frames collide, with one eventually winning over the other.
If you can get your audience to see the world through the same lens as you, you win. To do this, Oren suggests frame-stacking: throw multiple frames into your pitch to make your point of view strong.
For example the prize frame mentioned above (“We’re not sure we can sell you one of these cars, we only have so few, what will you do with it, if we decide to sell to you?”) can be combined with an intrigue frame – a compelling story (“During the development of this car, I rode shotgun for some Nürburgring laps, and I can tell you that breaking the 7:30 mark felt unlike anything I’ve witnessed before!”).
Slap on a time frame (“We expect this to sell out by next month.”) and you’re likely to trigger something called hot cognitions.
This simply means your audience will make a gut decision in your favor. We hardly ever wait for all the information before making a decision. We usually go with our intuition and then justify it later. Frame-stacking is a great way to achieve just that.
My personal take-aways
A lot of powerful stuff, and I haven’t heard much of this before. I like that Oren came up with his own terminology for a lot of this stuff. I don’t agree with everything in this book, some of it is downright manipulative. It’s a sales book, so that’s to be expected, but still. Nevertheless, there’s a lot to learn here, not just for actual selling but also for presenting your ideas in general – and that’s something we all need to do in today’s world.