Toss, Catch, and Pitch

You know, when it comes down to it, basic communication is a lot like playing a game of catch. You toss information, thoughts, ideas, and hope your intended target catches it. Then they throw back a response, you catch it, and the circle is complete. Communication!

Well, there’s no doubt that the term “sales pitch” has its roots in this simple game.  But the difference a “toss” and a “pitch” is significant.

A toss is light and easy, done for fun, with no goal in mind other than reaching its intended target….and making it as easy for them to catch as possible.

But a pitch is considerably more intense. Faster, harder, extremely targeted, and with a specific purpose.

And unlike a toss, which you may make to your kids in the back yard, the pitch is all business, and usually comes in situations where your recipients have braced themselves, expecting a high, hard one.

And that’s exactly why making a pitch before your target is ready is almost always a lose-lose proposition.

You see, in baseball, no pitcher ever comes into a game without warming up, and it’s just as critical in sales as it is on the ballfield. If you come in pitching before you’ve even gotten a good look at your target, chances are slim that you’re going to succeed.

You need to warm up, not just your pitching arm, but your receiver as well. And the best way to do this is by employing a technique we call consultative sales.

In consultative selling, you engage in a conversation with your prospect. You make a human connection, you establish a rapport. But most importantly, you find out what your customer needs. You find out what kind of problems they’re having, what their biggest challenges are. You find out what they need to move forward.

And then—and only then—you share with them your own, unique solution…..your pitch.

That’s why successful sales people always seem to have a little storyteller in them. They can frame their solutions in terms of a narrative their prospects can visualize and fully buy into. They help their prospects see a future in which, with the help your own specific product or service, they’ve gotten to where they want to be.

A lot of my colleagues have figured out that storytelling angle, but few as successfully and cleverly as John Livesay. John is a popular keynote speaker, sales expert, and author, and a very insightful individual. You can see him in action here. He has really mastered the concept of sales person as storyteller, and goes far deeper in his new book, Better Selling Through Storytelling…I totally recommend it, and you find out more about it out here!

And finally, once you and your prospect are both warmed up, it’s the right time for that pitch: straight and true, no curves or tricks, right down the middle.

But unlike baseball, your goal as a pitcher is to help your prospect hit it out of the park.

So take time to come up with the stories that can put you in the winner’s column….and know how and when to use them.

Because, believe me, knowing when to make that pitch is a major way to help you…