Pitch Anything is a book by Oren Klaff, who successfully raised $400 million from investors over five years. I first learned about the book from this Mixergy interview. This post has some of my notes from the book. Pitch Anything also has plenty of useful and entertaining stories.
• We survived as a species for millions of years by viewing everything in the universe as potentially dangerous and as a result learned to err on the side of extreme caution.
• The STRONG acronym stands for:
Setting the frame
Telling the story
Revealing the intrigue
Offering the prize
Nailing the hookpoint
Getting a decision
• Our brains process what our senses tell us and quickly react with a series of questions: Is it dangerous? Should I eat or mate with it?
• When you are responding ineffectively to things the other person is saying and doing, that person owns the frame, and you are being frame-controlled.
• If you have to explain your authority, power, position, leverage, and advantage, you do not hold the stronger frame. Rational appeals to higher order and logical thinking never win frame collisions or gain frame control.
• Obeying power rituals in business situations – such as acting deferential, engaging in meaningless small talk, or letting yourself be told what to do – reinforces the alpha status of your target and confirms your subordinate position. Do not do this!
• If someone tries to dominate you in business, pick something abstract and start an intense price negotiation over it. It doesn’t matter if you win or lose. This is to reduce the power of the other person’s frame.
• Take the power frame away as soon as you come into contact with your target by looking for the first opportunity to perpetrate a small denial or act out some type of defiance.
• Defiance and light humor are the keys to seizing power and frame control.
• No one likes to be dominated, so once you own the frame, use this power in ways that are fun and mutually exciting.
• Reframe everything your audience does and says as if they are trying to win you over.
• When you feel anxiety, strengthen your resolve and commit completely to your frame. No matter what happens, no matter how much social pressure and discomfort you suffer, you must stay composed and stick to your frame.
• When you are reacting to the other person, that person owns the frame. When the other person is reacting to what you do and say, you own the frame.
• When you see attention begin to bottom out and expire, start wrapping up. Running long or beyond the point of attention shows weakness, neediness, and desperation.
• If someone demands specific details, answer the question directly and with the highest-level information possible. Then redirect their attention back to your pitch.
• Most intelligent people take great pleasure in being confronted with something new, novel, and intriguing.
• Audience members are trying to figure out the answer to this question: “How similar is your idea to something I already know about or to a problem I have already solved?” If audience members discover that the answer is close to what they had earlier guest, they will mentally check out on you.
• When your target drills down into technical material, break that frame by telling a brief but relevant story that involves you that has been rehearsed beforehand. Tell the audience only part of the story and give them a feeling of suspense.
• An effective story has all of the following elements: brief, relevant to your pitch, you are at the center of the story, tales of risk and danger, a scenario where time is running out, tension where you are being blocked from achieving your goal, and the threat of serious consequences if you fail.
• Flip the script by thinking that investors have to earn you, not the other way around. Reframe investors as a commodity, a vending machine for money.
• Three of the most fundamental behaviors of human beings:
1. We chase that which moves away from us.
2. We want what we cannot have.
3. We only place value on things that are difficult to obtain.
• Your position in the social hierarchy is an artificial measure of your worth to others, a construct based on your wealth, your popularity within society at large, and the power of the position you hold.
• Your social value is fluid and changes with the environment you are in. If you wish to elevate your social value in any given situation, you can do so by redirecting people into a domain where you are in charge.
• One of the best ways to get a customer to confirm your alpha status is to make him defend himself in a light-hearted way.
• An audience’s attention starts to fade after about 20 minutes. Use the time-constraint pattern to let them know at the beginning of the presentation that you only have 20 minutes to spare and then you have to go do something else important.
• The pitch is structured in four sections:
1. Introduce yourself and the big idea: 5 minutes
2. Explain the budget and secret sauce: 10 minutes
3. Offer the deal: 2 minutes
4. Stack frames for a hot cognition: 3 minutes
• Your impression of someone is generally based on the average of the available information about them, not the sum. Telling people one great thing about yourself will leave them with a better impression of you than telling them one great thing and one pretty good one.
• It’s vitally important that the target knows that your idea is new and emerging from current market opportunities, not some relic left over from bygone days.
• Describe your idea or project by giving it context by framing it against these three market forces:
1. Economic forces – Briefly describe what has changed financially in the market for your big idea. For example, are customers wealthier, is credit more available, is financial optimism higher? Increases or decreases in interest rates, inflation, and the value of the dollar are considered as prime examples of forces that have significant impact on business opportunities.
2. Social forces – Highlight what emerging changes in people’s behavior patterns exist for your big idea.
3. Technology forces – Technological change can flatten existing business models and even entire industries because demand shifts from one product to another.
• Follow this structure in describing your idea:
1. Explain the most important changes in your business. Forecast the trends. Identify important developments – both in your market and beyond.
2. Talk about the impact of these developments on costs and customer demand.
3. Explain how these trends have briefly opened a market window.
• Geoff Moore’s idea introduction pattern:
“For [target customers]
Who are dissatisfied with [the current offerings in the market].
My idea/product is a [new idea or product category]
That provides [key problem/solution features].
Unlike [the competing product]
My idea/product is [describe key features].”
• Tune the message to the mind of the target.
• When a person is feeling both desire and tension, that person is paying serious attention to what’s in front of him or her.
• Persuasion is a balance between pulling and pushing. If you always pull the target toward you by selling hard, he or she becomes cautious and anxious. If you are constantly pushing them away, they will take the hint and leave.
• Overcome skepticism of your startup’s financial plans by demonstrating your skill at budgeting rather than projecting revenue.
• Describe the unfair advantage you have over competitors in the same market space as your startup.
• Tell your audience exactly what you will be delivering to them, when it will be delivered, and how.
• According to research by neuroscientist John-Dylan Haynes, decisions have already been made before the conscious brain is aware of them.
• Stack these four frames in quick succession:
1. The intrigue frame
2. The prize frame
3. The time frame
4. The moral authority frame
• People want to know how you have faced obstacles and overcome them. They want to see you in situations that reveal your character. That want to know that you are someone who rises to whatever level necessary to overcome obstacles and someone who travels in the company of interesting people who are players in whatever game you are playing.
• If you display neediness, it is perceived as the kind of threat that the brain wants to avoid.
• Counteract your validation-seeking behaviors with this formula:
1. Want nothing.
2. Focus only on things you do well.
3. Announce your intention to leave the social encounter.
• Any product that your target consciously or subconsciously believes will enhance his social image will get his brain hot with desire. Showing the brain something that society values will also excite the brain.
• The opportunity to gain a social reward, such as becoming a hero, is even more exciting than making money.
• The slightest perception that you are taking away a person’s autonomy will trigger a threat response.
• The brain is always assessing how social encounters either enhance or diminish its status.
• Emotional intensity creates a moment where intention is high and strong memories can be created.
• Humor signals that although tension is real, you are so confident that you can play around a little.