A Few of My Favorite Pitches
I believe conventional wisdom gets some networking principles exactly backwards. The best example, I think, concerns the scope of a personal pitch. When you craft that one sentence to describe what you do, how specific are you supposed to be?
I can't tell you how many people bring me pitches that remind me of margarine: easy to spread about, hard to define, almost without taste. These folks want to reach the widest possible audience, so they keep it general. "I'm a financial advisor with XYZ firm."
General, all right. How many seconds before it's forgotten, and the name right along with it?
General pitches are rooted in scarcity: There's not enough fish in the sea, so cast the biggest net possible. Sorry, but I'm not biting. I've seen too many people have too much success with pitches that were directed smack at ‘ideal' clients. The best have high-definition details.
After years of working with many people I'd rather write off, I finally boiled my pitch down to: "I work with high-net-worth women in fashion and media who also are the primary breadwinners in their households."
At last, I'd condensed my ideal client's work field, income (high), work style (hard-driving), responsibilities (the main earner) and loyalties (a family).
My practice took off, as did my personal satisfaction. Clients were now my people, and too plentiful to take on all at once. They also recognized me as one of theirs since the pitch is a two-way mirror. It defines the client's priorities, but it also defines yours.
Here are a few of my all-time favorite pitches. How are their owners doing? Very well, thank you.
- My name is Jack and I work with cattle ranching families whose kids show livestock through 4H to fund their college educations.
This pitch does a great job pairing up family businesses and the tradition of raising animals. Its subtext communicates hopes for the future, respect for the past and support for a great organization. Classy.
- My name is Alex and I work with doctors in private practice in San Diego who are planning to retire within the next five years.
This one shows savvy networking skills. Once one client is impressed, the network can then reasonably spread to every single colleague who fits the demographic. Consider that this niche is filled with affluent baby boomers in a healthcare hub with a population well above a million. It's a pitch that dives into a deep pool of pure gold.
- My name is Susan and I work with health-conscious and fit marathon runners who are looking for ways to retire with confidence.
Marathon training takes serious commitment—and plenty of understanding from family and associates. What would it mean if a financial advisor so well understood your lifestyle? This one makes a bold play for loyalty, and succeeds.
- My name is Kathy and I work with crafty moms who want the best for their kids, but also want to make sure they plan for their own retirement.
Great use of an adjective there. Winks knowingly at a concern that isn't always socially acceptable: "I'll do anything for them, but what if they can't cover my long-term care?" Smart and distinctive.
- My name is Brent and I work with dog trainers in Omaha who want to take a disciplined and methodical approach to their financial planning.
Along with the "I get you" message, this pitch also suggests traits necessary to train dogs are a natural fit for sound financial planning. Underwrites a potential client's confidence, and it's likely to inspire it in return.
Remember: Once you've developed an accurate pitch—and practiced it enough to deliver it naturally—you gotta be patient. You should never jump blindly into your ask! Listen and interact with what the other person says. This is meant to be conversational. Otherwise, your would-be prospect might run away without giving you the clues you can translate into a dynamite call to action.
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