The Creative Life is a Pitch

It is all about the pitch. Many creative careers are dependent on being a good pitch person. it is part salesmanschip, part stage performance and part public speaking skills. In some creative businesses, being able to pitch is a matter of business life and death.

It is much easier when you know they need what you have got and how you can help them get what they want. Start out by asking ‘Who needs what I have? How badly do they want it? The more you know the answer to those two questions, the less pressure will be on you, and the easier it becomes to pitch yourself.

How to Sell Without Selling Your Soul 

Selling your talent is tough. It may even be distasteful, especially if you don’t believe in yourself. Many creatives defend their inability to sell as an unwillingness to sell out. Get of your high horse. I am not the devil because I believe you have to get the word out.

As a creative, you are always pitching your stuff, whereever you are, whomever you are talking to. You pitch people you want to work for, and those you want to work for you. Your style is a pitch of its own, a demonstration of your uniqueness.

To get paid, to make a living, you have to sell. You don’t have to lie, cheat, deceive. To sell effectively, you must help people, inspire them, entertain them, fill their needs. These are good things.

Don’t treat selling as if it were beneath you. If you don’t think you can do it, then you can’t. The sooner you accept that you have to do it, the better. Everyone sells something: ideas, information, talent, skills, products, books, dreams, energy, art. If you have something to offer, and you want to earn money for it, you sell. That doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with it.

Try to get some intelligence on your client. People like to do business with those who know what the hell they are talking about. They will test you. You need them to say yes to your plan, book, project. You must motivate them. Find out what it will take to get them to say yes. Work backward. Build up a good story. Visit their website or facebook to gain insights.

Don’t get hung on the first no.  New York mayor Ed Koch was recuperating from a heart attack when Mother Teresa came to visit him. He offered her a chocolate chip cookie. She refused, saying that in India when someone offers you food you never take it, because they may starve if you eat their food. ‘But Mother, these are the greatest cookies in the world” persuaded Mayor Koch. Mother Teresa replies ‘wrap them up”.

People want what they can’t have. Sold out. Standing room only. For a limited time. I am book solid through July, but I think I could squeeze you in the first week of August.

Shut up and listen. Ask questions and let them do all the talking. Don’t ever ask a question to which they can answer no.

Trust your gut.  Use your intuition to judge the situation and react.

People buy from friends. So make more friends, treat people like your friends. Borrow other people’s friends. Keep in touch with old friends (neighbors, classmates, cellmates, whatever). Get referrals, testimonials, leads and work them.

Be Passionate. Being pumped will influence people more than what you actually say.

Don’t be dull!.  Don’t be desperate. Interject some humor, an anecdote, a personal story, an example. Make it real. Entertain, personalize it with your wit. Relax and have some fun.

Be ready to pitch your story on a moment’s notice. Have your verbal brochure ready to go. It should be so well rehearsed that it doesn’t sound rehearsed.

Lead with your best stuff, and keep it short. Be clear and concise about what you are selling. One to two minutes is a good pitch.

Sincerity sells. Don’t be a phony. Be yourself. (Not everyone will warm to you, but at least you aren’t selling out). Always be sincere, whether you mean it or not.

Persistence pays off. Walt Disney was turned down by 403 banks before he found financing to make a mouse themed park.

Always have something to give. A demo tape, brochure, video, website presentation. Carry them with you all times.

No matter what you are selling, stress the benefits. People are influenced by WIIFM (What is in it for me?). Tap into that. What is their dream, their desire? Sell them on it.

If they say no, ask for a referral to someone else who might like what you have to offer.

Don’t take no personally. If you don’t get it, who did? Why? What did they do? What do they have that I don’t? How can i improve?

Don’t handicap yourself by saying ‘I am not a salesperson’. You can be whatever you want to be.

What is your bottom line? Find ways other than money to negotiate. Let them make the offer first.

Recognize a poor fit when you see one and back down gracefully. Give them an easy exit and they may recommend you to someone else.