Creating Your Pitch

Dr. Lynn Friedman
Special to washingtonpost.com
Wednesday, November 23, 2005; 12:15 PM

You know the kind of setting in which you would like to work. You have created a risk free, non-threatening "free sample" that positions you in the best possible light. But, now, how do you create a persuasive pitch that allows you to sell yourself? And, how do you get past the receptionist? Consider the following steps:

  • First, identify the key gatekeepers at the organization. Ask around. Your friends, neighbors, colleagues and acquaintances may know and be able to identify key gatekeepers. Also, have a friend call and ask the operator or the secretary to identify the people in the relevant roles. For example, your friend can simply ask who is the head of human resources or payroll. When you obtain the gatekeeper's name, address, email address and fax number, be sure to obtain the name of the gatekeeper's secretary too. When you call to reach the gatekeeper, refer to the secretary by name.

  • Second, create a pitch for your program. Describe the benefits associated with your program. If you are an accountant offering a continuing education program to attorneys, articulate the ways in which they will benefit from the program. Describe how the benefits relate to the bottom-line. How will they save money? Or, how it will enable participants to help their clients more effectively? Will they meet a continuing education requirement? What about your "free" program makes it of special interest to the gatekeeper? Make a benefit statement in a sentence or two. Write it. Test it out on your friends and colleagues. The key here is that your benefit statement should be clear and concise. Remember to focus on the program's benefits, not its features.

  • Third, create your personal pitch. Your personal pitch should provide a response to the question, "Okay, so we believe that your program will be useful, but, why should you be the one to offer it?" In creating your personal pitch, you need to tout your most impressive credentials. This varies from business to business.

    If your most impressive credential is:

    The prestige of the place where you work You can say, "Hello, Mr. Smith, for many years I have worked at (name the very prestigious place) as a (name your role). I have developed a program in which (describe what you do).

  • Training

    Incorporate that into your personal pitch. You can say, "Hello, Ms. Jones, I am an attorney with extensive training in X."

  • Experience

    You may have done the program before, in a different place or in front of a different audience. You can say, "In the last 15 years, I have developed a program in which (now, add your benefit statement).

    Or, if you have no experience with your program but have considerable experience in your industry, "I have been a Certified Public Accountant for more than 15 years and I have discovered that an important, yet easy-to-rectify gap in most estate attorneys' background is X.

  • The stature of the institution in which you earned your degree


  • CONTINUED     1        >

    © 2005 The Washington Post Company