by Jill Kelleher, PLA, LEED AP; Associate HGOR
While I cannot carry a tune like the Bellas in Pitch Perfect, I can deliver a pitch – whether it’s sales, elevator or design – with an award-winning a cappella ending, thanks to the right methods and some good old-fashioned practice. By perfecting our pitch, we can secure new clients and capture repeat business. We can push our expert ideas into execution, rather than facing client hesitation. Refined, clear pitches help exceed expectations as we avoid “overselling and under-delivering.”
Similar to how some people are natural born singers, some people are natural sellers. In the AEC industry, you’re often labeled as a “doer” or as a “seller.” But I’m here to tell you that you can be both – a rainmaker. If you are like me, a doer with rainmaker aspirations, you need that extra little guidance, practice and vote of confidence.
Whether we like it or not, we have to sell ourselves and our ideas everyday with our co-workers, bosses, clients, consultants, colleagues and/or peers. How can we make each of those conversations meaningful and influential without sounding like we are on autopilot?
“The purpose of the pitch isn’t necessarily to move others to adopt your idea, it’s to offer something so compelling it begins a conversation,” according to The New York Times bestselling author, Daniel H. Pink, author of “To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others.”
Craft a Powerful Message:
TED Talk extraordinaire, entrepreneur, marketer and author, Seth Godin, iterates that a pitch needs to be compelling: “The best elevator pitch is true, stunning, brief and it leaves the listener eager (no, desperate) to hear the rest of it.”
Forbes compiled a few powerful pitches, which left the listener “desperate” for more, that we all know, including Reagan’s famous “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” and lawyer Johnnie Cochran’s infamous remark to O.J. Simpson jurors, “If it doesn’t fit you must acquit.” These snappy, persuasive pitches demonstrate that your pitch doesn’t need to be lengthy or filled with details, but it does need to be powerful.
Authenticity builds trust and trust builds lasting, meaningful relationships, which is likely your goal in your AEC pitches. So how can you build authenticity with your listener?
- Remember your vision and underlying passion. Think of why you’re excited about this pitch and convey it.
- Avoid jargon that puts more stress on the listener.
- Rather than paving a one-way road, open up the conversation to hear from your audience.
- Put your pitch into a story. Study after study shows that storytelling better captures attention and makes your message unforgettable.
Good Old Fashioned Practice:
Practice will help you deliver an efficient, irresistible pitch and build your confidence. Prior to each opportunity where I have to present an idea, I assess the results of a previous engagement I had with the individual and polish my approach for perfecting the pitch. Practice until it feels natural and reflects your passion. Practice in front of a mirror. Practice in front of your colleagues. Another option is practicing in front of strangers at one of Atlanta’s tech incubators. Buckhead’s Atlanta Tech Village offers Pitch Practice every Friday at 1 p.m. Presenters prepare a 5-6-minute pitch then hear feedback from attendees. The event is free for presenters and attendees and is open to the public.
Just like the Bellas ending with a perfect harmony, end with your pitch with the perfect call to action. With authenticity, powerful messaging and practice behind you, the listener will be hanging on to every word and ready to buy into what you’re selling.
Jill Kelleher is an Atlanta native and senior landscape architect at HGOR. Jill has a strong passion for helping her clients achieve a measurable ROI through experiential outdoor amenities. She manages a talented team of creative thinkers who design dynamic, timeless projects that invite the visitors to immerse themselves into the places designed for them. On the weekends, Jill enjoys spending time on the road uncovering relics from America’s historic past.
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