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Pitching: Don’t Assume I’ll Be Interested, and Some Advice [en]

Pitching: Don’t Assume I’ll Be Interested, and Some Advice [en]

[fr] Comme blogueuse, j'ai malheureusement l'habitude qu'on m'approche avec des infographies et autres contenus "pour mes lecteurs". Ahem. N'importe qui ayant passé plus de 4 minutes sur mon blog devrait vite repérer que mon business n'est pas la reproduction du travail d'autrui.

La nouvelle tendance, c'est les startups et autres entrepreneurs du coin qui me contactent, en tant que gestionnaire de l'eclau, pour me pitcher leurs services -- et idéalement, les vendre aux membres.

Ce qui me dérange souvent dans ces approches, c'est qu'au lieu de demander si une telle démarche ferait sens, on semble partir du principe que bien sûr, ça va intéresser les gens/m'intéresser. Du coup, quelques conseils (un peu à l'arrache) sur comment procéder mieux.

As a blogger, I’m used to getting emails telling me about a fascinating infographic or a great new service that I should be eager to tell my readers about. These emails usually get ignored, or in the case of the worst offenders who follow-up aggressively when they get no reply, spammed.

Recently, I have been faced with an annoying new trend: as a coworking space owner, I am starting to receive pitches (sometimes by e-mail, generally by phone) from local start-ups or entrepreneurs who are convinced that their product or service is ideal for the members of eclau.

Sailing. Race.

Honestly, nobody likes being pitched. On the other hand, I am aware that I sometimes contact people to try to interest them in stuff that I’m doing. For example, I have spent a large part of the last two days telling people about a workshop I am holding in Geneva next week, and which is not full yet. Am I being the annoying person pitching them?

Examining the way I phrase things has led me, I think, to pinpoint what is so annoying with these pitches that I’m getting. They assume that what they have to offer is interesting, to me or the members of my coworking space. They’re not asking. It’s pushy. It’s “I’d like to come and show my product” or “this will be of interest to your readers”. Not “what do you think?” or “would this make sense?” or “just in case”.

It feels like the objective is to convince me there is a match. Oh, you know me or my coworking members better than I do? Half the time, to be honest, it’s so far off the mark that it’s clear proper homework has not been done, and that weakens the whole approach. If you have to talk me into something, it’s probably not that great a match, specially if I get the feeling you’re not really listening to me.

It’s hard to find the right balance between pitching too aggressively and staying in the shadows. I get it. How do I try and do it?

  • I do my homework — or if I can’t, or haven’t, I ask the other person if they think it’s a match.
  • I try and put myself in the other person’s shoes. What is in it really for them, besides what I would like there to be? I try and forget about my goals and think only of theirs.
  • I aim to inform rather than sell. Ask questions and listen rather than “talk at”.
  • If I want to tell the other person about something, and I don’t really expect them to see the point at this stage, I’ll do my best to be upfront about the fact that I’m asking them a favour (their time) to hear me out, instead of trying to pass it off as something that’s in their interest.
  • Often, I’m asking people I know if they might know people who could be interested in whatever I’m doing. If they are themselves, they’ll certainly tell me, but I’m not assuming they are.
  • As a general rule, I am generous with my knowledge and time and happy to help people I know out. I do it because it’s in my nature, but it does have the advantage that when I’m asking for something, I’m not (I hope!) coming across as the person who’s always wanting and never giving.

That’s it, off the top of my head. I’m sure I don’t manage to do things “perfectly” all the time, but I do my best to be respectful of other people’s needs and time.

How do you approach this? If you get pitched and it’s not your job to get pitched (you’re not a VC or somebody who relies on pitches), what are the things that put you off, and what advice would you give to approach you?

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