Stop Pitching; Don't Make Them Duck

Stop Pitching; Don't Make Them Duck
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

Let's say that your friend Carla calls and asks if you'll be home in the next hour; she wants to stop by to show you "something." You invite her to come on over. You're guessing that she has either a new convertible or collie -- she's been talking about buying both.

When she arrives -- without new car or pup -- she chit-chats a few minutes and then announces, "So are you ready for my big news?"

"Sure. What?"

"I've changed jobs!"

Surprised, you asked the next logical questions: "What happened? When? How do you like it?"

Then two minutes later, she pulls out her laptop and you see it coming -- the sales pitch: "So I'm selling security systems. And I wanted to give you a demo and see if you're interested?"

At this point, would a little protective screen drop down between you: Ooops, how do I get out of this situation?

My guess is that you'd try to keep the two-way conversation going as it had been before she pulled out the laptop to show you her new product: "I didn't know you'd changed jobs -- how did you find it?" "How's the commute?" "Do you like your new boss?"

That ducking reaction occurs almost automatically when we walk into a department store. The sales associate asks, "May I help you?"

You say, "No thanks, I'm just looking."

Two minutes later, you call the sales associate over and say, "Can you help me, please? I'm looking for jeans -- low riders, boot cut. Where can I find those?"

A caller solicits money for a worthwhile cause. What's the immediate reaction? Hang up -- unless you recognize the name and stay on the line long enough to listen.

The typical reaction to a "pitch"? Duck.

My second guess about your persistent friend Carla is that she would answer distracting questions quickly and then try to refocus on the one-directional pitch, telling you about her security systems. But if she were smart, she'd take a cue from your body language, dial it down a few notches, move back into friend mode, pick up the conversational string again, and wait until you expressed interest in seeing her new product.

Pitching -- whether a formal sales appointment, an elevator speech, or a crafted commercial -- causes people to duck. A conversation, on the other hand, invites people to engage and exchange information.

If you intend to persuade -- whether selling financial services in a client meeting or talking about college to your teen in the backyard over barbecue -- make sure you're conversing. Otherwise, people will likely ditch the pitch.

Go To Homepage

Before You Go

Popular in the Community