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3 Ways to Pitch Your Idea

Whether you’re selling a suggestion internally or a new service to a potential customer, these techniques will help.
COLLABORATORS Daniel Pink, Scott Berkun
How to pitch your ideas
photo by Bryce Edwards

Here at The Build Network, we’re big fans of leadership guru Daniel Pink (@DanielPink).

Thanks to his blog, we learned about Michael Panalon’s book, Instant Influence, and published the article “2 Questions That Make People Do What You Want.”

So when Pink’s latest title, To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Motivating Others, came out in December, we requested a copy from his publicity team (being in the media has its perks) and scoured it for items that would be useful to the Build community.

Lo and behold, the book’s seventh chapter, “Pitch,” features six types of pitches and exercises for improving them. Here are three that resonate with us:

1. The One-Word Pitch: Write a 50-word sales pitch for your product or service. Reduce it to 25 words, and then to six. One of those remaining half-dozen words is almost certainly your one-word pitch.

Pink’s notes (from his new book): Advertising expert Maurice Saatchi writes that “Companies compete for global ownership of one word in the public mind. . . . What technology company do you think of when you hear the word ‘search’? What credit card company comes to mind when you hear the word ‘priceless’?”

2. The Question Pitch: Use this if your arguments are strong. If they’re weak, make a statement. Or better yet, find some new arguments.

Pink’s notes: “Several scholars have found that questions can outperform statements in persuading others . . . [for example], ‘Are you better off now than you were four years ago?’”

3. The Subject-Line Pitch: Review the subject lines of the last 20 email messages you’ve sent. Note how many of them appeal to you out of either utility or curiosity. If that number is less than 10, rewrite each one that fails the test.

Pink’s notes: “Your email subject line should be either obviously useful (Found the best & cheapest photocopier) or mysteriously intriguing (A photocopy breakthrough!), but probably not both (The Canon IR2545 is a photocopy breakthrough).



Beyond honing your pitch, make a list of the people to whom you plan to direct it, recommends author and speaker Scott Berkun (@berkun). “Base this list on two criteria: who has the power needed to implement the idea, and who you might have access to,” he writes on his blog. “If you have no idea who to pitch your idea to, ask around. There’s no sense developing your pitch if there’s no one to catch. If you don’t have access to the person with the power you need, make a list of who has access to them, working backward until you can list people you actually know.”

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3 Ways to Pitch Your Idea

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