How to Influence and Pitch Successfully
Updated: Aug 15, 2021
I’m gonna offer you simple and actionable techniques to influence and pitch anything.
Now, how I want you to think about influence is that it’s a campaign. Usually, when you want to get buy-in for your idea or request, you will need to meet with a few stakeholders. And usually, you will talk with your decision-makers multiple times before you get a 100% buy-in from them.
Now, influence is also a campaign because there are factors such as your relationship, your brand, your reputation that come into play. You need to work on building your influence all the time. And then when you want to pitch an idea it will be that much easier.
So you want to build your influence strategically over time by building relationships.
And there are 8 principles that help you increase your influence. Now, it’s great to apply them during the actual pitching, but most importantly all the time in your day-to-day interactions.
These are likability, reciprocity, consistency, social proof, authority, urgency, compare/contrast, and the word because
Let's start with likability. It’s easier for us to say yes to someone we know and like. How can you help people like you?
First, decide to like them. What’s amazing about them? What’s awesome about them. Focus on this and like them.
The second step is to signal your liking to them. Tell them how much you like them. When you signal your liking to them, you make it super easy for them, to like you back.
How can you show other people that you like them? Be interested in them, highlight their strengths, praise and appreciate them. Be a highlighter.
Use positive labels. Humans love to be given positive labels. They improve our self-image and push us to be better versions of ourselves.
Allow yourself to be impressed by the person across from you. Find ways to emphasize their strengths.
Celebrate their excitement.
Some examples could be:
You know everyone here. – You must be a great networker!
I’m impressed by your efficiency – this team is so lucky to have you.
You are an expert in this subject. Thank goodness you’re here.
Another way to show as a highlighter is through exponential excitement. Exponential excitement is about celebrating the successes of others as if they were your own. You can say something like:
“I’m so thrilled for you!”
“How wonderful that must be!”
“That is the best news, congratulations!”
When you see something – anything that is awesome, always take the opportunity to highlight it.
Make people feel good and they will remember you. Make them want to be the best version of themselves. So highlight and expect the best in those around you. Being the highlighter helps you be the highlight.
Then, use people’s names.
A person’s name is to that person the sweetest, most important sound in any language. So remember and use your conversation partner’s name.
Another way to help others like you is by highlighting similarities. That’s one of the keys to increasing likeability. And it’s also a great way to have engaging conversations.
You should constantly be on the lookout for similarities and highlighting them. Find mutual likes. Once you find one similarity highlight it.
Some examples of similarity effects in action are:
Oh, I love Bali. Maybe we were there at the same time?
Are you kidding? I’m a huge Real Madrid fan.
You’re into tennis? Me too!
A secret to a successful and engaging conversation is to always look for an opportunity to say – me too. So always ask questions that can uncover those commonalities.
How do you know the host?
Are you a friend of the bride or groom?
How long have you been part of this group?
Every interaction should be about finding these commonalities.
Now the second principle is reciprocity: This principle says that people are motivated to return a favor or a good deed or respond to a positive action with another positive action. We also use this principle when we build likeability. We like people who like us. This is the reciprocity effect in action. Now, this also means that when you offer support to someone they will be more likely to support you in return.
Next is consistency. We feel pressure to be consistent in what we say and do. So if someone promised you something, you can use this principle to remind them and they will be more likely to take action.
Next is social proof – we look at what others do to help us make decisions. So you can use data and numbers to effectively influence others.
Next is authority. Thanks to this principle, you can build your credibility by highlighting your experience and expertise. It’s also about showing power in many different forms. So if you're trying to get a promotion, building relationships with senior leaders and decision-makers would be making use of the authority principle.
Next, urgency - If you're trying to get buy-in on an idea or a project, you might stress the impact that acting immediately will have on the competition or say productivity and bottom lines. It can also help to offer specific dates and deadlines in your proposal.
The principle of Compare/contrast is telling us that people are always making comparisons. So use this principle to show your request in the best light by using the most effective comparison.
And finally – the word because. You should always add reasons to your requests and by linking them with the word because you make it that much effective.
So use these principles in your day-to-day interactions to increase your levels of influence. But also use them in your specific influencing campaign and in your pitch.
So here’s how you should prepare for your pitch.
First, think about your goal in this conversation. Before you start crafting your message, get clear on what you want your audience to think, feel and do.
Then, think about the people whose approval you need, and what's in it for them to agree. Consider the decision-making style of the person you're trying to influence.
Is she more of an analytical thinker type, who makes decisions by processing data and bottom-line results? Or is this someone who is more emotional, and makes decisions by considering the effect on people? Head or heart?
Then, consider your message.
A great pattern of organization when pitching an idea is the what, why, and how to structure. The WHAT is the overview of your suggestion. WHY are the reasons that support this idea. And HOW is all about the feasibility and the next steps.
Now let’s see how to build everything into the actual pitching conversation.
Before you start with the WHAT of your pitch, you need to spend some time building rapport. And you will do that by using the principle of likeability. So you will open the conversation by highlighting a similarity and you will also create a positive atmosphere by appreciating them and highlighting what's great about them.
Then you can also build your credibility or authority. You can mention your expertise if it relates to the subject you want to discuss, or you can talk about your background and experience. You can also mention the research you have done about the subject.
Then, state your request or suggestion. That’s the WHAT part. Here, be clear, concise, and specific.
Then add because and follow up with 2 to 3 compelling reasons. That is the WHY part. Back up those reasons with solid evidence, statistics, feedback, surveys, case studies, data, specific examples.
Make sure these reasons are aligned with the values and the priorities of your decision-maker and directly speak to what’s in it for them.
Make sure to target the desired arguments and feelings you identified in the preparation phase. What do you want them to think, feel and do.
Does your audience make decisions primary by head? Or heart? If head, make sure to build a logical argument using data, evidence, facts, comparisons, and benchmarks. Use the principle of social proof and authority.
If heart, appeal to the emotions and relationships. Here, use the principle of consistency. You can reference something they said or promised in the past or remind them of a position they took in the past that is supportive of your current proposal. You can also use the principle of social proof. Use data and numbers to back your arguments. You can use the principle of contrast and comparison to strategically emphasize certain aspects of your proposal.
And finally, outline the next steps. This is the how part. Explain to your decision-maker how your idea will be implemented.
What do you want them, to do?
Make it as easy as possible for them to say YES. Here, I invite you to use the principle of urgency. Suggest a deadline or say how we might benefit from taking action immediately.
And you will end the entire sequence by adding an open-ended question – How does that sound?
Now if you use this technique and incorporate all these principles of influence, you dramatically increased your chances of getting a yes.
So let’s see an example.
Let’s say that you want your boss to approve a budget of 125 k on a marketing campaign. So for your analysis, you think: What’s in it for them: the expected revenue of this campaign is 350K, and this is a campaign using new social media. You know that it’s in line with the vision she has about targeting younger audiences. You know that she decides based on both head and heart. She likes data but also values relationships. Then you strategize about what do you want them to think, feel, and do. So you what them to think that this is a highly profitable campaign and that you are the right person to drive it. You what them to feel confident about the decision and trust you. And you want them to approve the budget.
So first you open the conversation and build rapport:
Jane, it’s great talking to you. Congratulations on the recent award you received. I’m so impressed and it’s such a pleasure working with you.
Notice how I incorporated likability here: I praised them and highlighted their success, and I also used reciprocity effect, showing them how I like them. We’re starting the conversation on a positive note, building rapport, and likability.
Next, I move to my pitch. Before jumping to the WHAT or the request, I build my credibility and I also use social proof and contrast.
I have done extensive research and have seen that campaigns on new social media offer on average 4 times higher return on investment than campaigns on traditional social media. I also run a similar campaign last year so I’m happy to use my experience from that campaign.
Now, I move to my request or the WHAT.
Here’s my marketing plan for the campaign we will launch this summer on these new social media. The investment is 125 thousand and I’d like us to approve the budget. Now the expected return on this campaign is 350K because these new social media are growing rapidly and offer higher user engagement. Our clients also showed that it’s important for them that their favorite brand is where they are. It’s also in line with the vision you’ve introduced this year.
This was my WHY – notice that I appealed both to the head and heart and I used the word because to offer arguments. I used the principle of consistency here too. Next is the how.
Here’s the detailed launch plan. The marketing team begins the preparations next week and if we want to follow the plan, we should approve the budget this week. I prepared all the paperwork and have it ready for you to sign. How does that sound?
All right. You see how I offered all the necessary steps and made it really easy for my audience to take the next step.
And I ended with How does that sound.
Now we’re entering a negotiation space on which we already have a great episode, episode 5, so I invite you to listen to that episode to see how this conversation might continue.
All right so let’s sum up.
Remember that influence is a campaign. You can effectively build your influence through your brand, reputation, and relationships.
There are 8 principles that come into play when we build our influence. You can use them in your daily interactions and also when pitching a specific idea. Remember to build rapport through likeability. You can do that by liking them and signaling your liking to them by telling them how much you appreciate them, by highlighting their strengths and celebrating their success. Also, look for similarities, and when you see them make sure to highlight them. Always be on the lookout to say: me too!
When it comes to the pitching, open by building rapport. Remember the WHAT, WHY, HOW structure. Make sure to appeal to what’s in it for them and appeal both to the head and heart. Make it easy for them to say yes and create urgency by highlighting the benefits of acting immediately.
All right, that’s all for today amazing, charming communicators.
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