Interviewing has a parallel in dating when both sides are putting their best foot forward.…
By John Borrowman, CPC
Borrowman Baker, LLC, BV Staffing + Consulting
Even though you may be a cracker-jack BV financial analyst, you still have to sell the work to ultimately be successful in the profession. In “How To Win A Pitch”, Joey Asher describes the fundamentals that will distinguish you from the competition.
We were impressed enough with the book that we talked to Joey about how these ideas relate to the world of business valuation.
Borrowman: In your book, you point out that the focus of your pitch should be on the solution to the client’s problem, rather than the story of your firm. Sometimes, however, the reliability of the opinion you’re going to issue is a correlate of your firm’s story. How do you balance the two?
Asher: I can see that the value of your opinion can be tied to the goodwill of your organization. I’m not saying you shouldn’t talk about your history. But, it all goes to the context in which you deliver that history.
You need to be saying, “Here’s our plan for you. We’re going to do X, Y and Z. And this will enable us to produce the most reliable value. Now, let me tell you how this same plan has worked for other businesses.” That’s when it’s OK to talk about your history. Position that history as a case study of how “my plan for you” has worked in the past.
Borrowman: BV professionals are often faced with the need to visit a potential client having only a rudimentary understanding of the client’s problem. How can you get the information you need for a pitch that is often made “on the fly”?
Asher: Usually, people underestimate their ability to get information before they go see a potential client. When you take that call, you can say: “Yes, I would be happy to come. Do you have a few minutes so I can ask a few questions so I can be as prepared as possible?” So often, people just punt on this issue. They get off the phone and are glad to go so they don’t really do much research.
The best pitches are based on good information from the prospect. If all you do is show up and talk about yourself, that doesn’t distinguish you from the next appraiser. The client may be considering you alongside someone else, but doesn’t know, really, who is a good appraiser. All they know is their own business. They can tell, though, if you’re the kind of person that’s going to connect with them.
We get so excited that someone has asked us to come and speak to them, we forget that – as professionals – what we’re good at is assessing need, understanding what the situation is, and making judgments based on the circumstances. That’s how you distinguish yourself from the competition.
Borrowman: Why is it good news when a potential client starts bombarding you with questions? What do you mean by having “tight answers”?
Asher: When they start bombarding you with questions, they’re interested. You’ve raised issues that intrigue them. Something has caught in their head, and they’re interested in what you’re saying.
You want to give your answers in two or three sentences, and then explain if necessary. There’s the old cliché: When someone asks the time of day, you don’t need to tell them how to build a clock. If your prospect wants more, he’ll ask for more.
Borrowman: Some BV work is compliance and viewed by the client as more of a “commodity” which, in turn, is especially price sensitive. In your book, however, you write that “business services are never a commodity because buyers see their own problems as unique.” How might a BV professional square these two, apparently conflicting, views and develop a pitch that speaks more to value than to price?
Asher: I’ll admit there can be a commoditizing effect in professional services. But the client isn’t buying grain. He’s buying the best judgment of the people who are bringing the ideas. Great appraisers develop a following based on their ability to do what they do. Out of ten, two will be hugely successful. A handful will be moderately successful, and the rest not very successful.
How do you say this is a commodity? I think that’s an excuse. People love to blame their difficulty in winning business on the notion that their service is a commodity. It can look like the issue is price when, maybe, the prospect just didn’t connect with you during that pitch.
Borrowman: So, how do you “connect”?
Asher: It really comes down to the fundamentals in the book. Are you:
Focused on the business problem?
Speaking with passion?
Answering their questions well?
Coming across as well rehearsed?
If you execute on all five elements, chances are your competitors won’t. And you’re going to come across as better and worth more.
Borrowman: You write about how passion sells. But, how does a BV professional develop and demonstrate the appropriate passion in the face of the need to also demonstrate a certain gravitas and maturity that underlies the ability to deliver a defensible opinion of value?
Asher: I agree that gravitas is important. But, you don’t get gravitas by being boring and overly serious. It comes across through a combination of all the fundamentals. The passion comes through in terms of how you connect with people.
One of the judgments your prospect is making is: “Will I enjoy working with this person?” To have them want to spend time with you, you need to speak with energy, with passion.
You don’t need to be like “Vince” the pitch-man for “Sham-Wow”. But, you do need to speak to your prospects like you speak to your best friends over dinner when you’re really excited about something. That allows the prospect to connect with you in a personal way. That’s what I mean about passion.
“How To Win A Pitch” is published by Persuasive Speaker Press, Atlanta, GA, and is available at www.HowToWinAPitch.com.