Posted March 31, 2009.
If you're short on time, here's my review in a nutshell: Buy this book.
Before the full review though, an admission: I hate the word “pitch”.
Now don't get me wrong, I've been involved in more than my fair share of pitches; won (and lost) multi-million pound consulting contracts as a result of “beauty parades” and “bake offs”. And I've learnt what works for me by learning from my mistakes and watching true experts perform in the field. But for me, the word “pitch” brings up all the wrong images: slick haired, dark suited, fast talking professionals who pitch at the clients rather than engaging with them.
So in truth, when author Joey Asher offered to send me a review copy of How to Win a Pitch, I wasn't really looking forward to it. I was expecting the usual platitudes about dressing well, body language and performance skills.
I couldn't have been further from the truth.
What the book does deliver is a no-nonsense guide to the key fundamentals needed to win sales pitches. Page after page I found myself nodding in agreement, or occasionally thinking “great so far – but I bet he doesn't cover X” – only to find it explored in detail a few pages later. And I don't just mean coverage of the basics – there was plenty in here that was new to me – despite my years of experience.
Asher's five fundamentals are simple: ensure that the pitch is
- Focused on a business solution
- Simply organised
- Delivered with passion
As he points out, so many pitches are done so badly that simply doing well on at least some of these fundamentals can significantly differentiate you from your competition. But the book doesn't settle for that – it delivers rock-solid techniques and methods to excel in each area.
Take the first fundamental: focusing the message on the business problem. Rather than just stating that this is important, Asher delivers a strong questioning methodology to enable this (and more importantly – highlights the importance of genuine listening over using techniques), and then gives multiple examples of solution focused pitches for the reader to learn from.
This is repeated throughout the 5 fundamentals. Strong advice, strong examples, elegantly and effectively communicated.
And make no mistake – these fundamentals are absolutely vital – but often overlooked. The number of senior professionals I've seen violating Asher's principle of rehearsal, for example, is simply staggering.
This book is one of those rarities that presents a simple framework that “beginners” will be able to understand and use – yet still crams in multiple gems of wisdom and insight that even highly experienced sales people will learn from.
If you get involved in sales pitches and presentations in any way (and if you want to sell big, there's no doubt you will) – then you must buy this book.
*** Update *** Joey has just emailed me to say that the book will be in stock at Amazon on May 17th. But if you want a copy now you can buy one at www.howtowinapitch.com.