Summary of Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff

Making a great and winning pitch in business is not easy. Be it selling your idea to the investors, or to your clients conveying your thoughts in the best possible way seems complicated.

With this book, “Pitch Anything” Oren Klaff shares various innovative methods that will help you make great pitches and win the deal, thereby totally transforming your career.

Let’s breakthrough the book chapter by chapter and present you a detailed Pitch Anything Summary:

Pitch Anything Summary Chapter 1: The Method

Klaff says that a great pitch is not about procedure. It’s about getting and keeping attention.” Our brains as they are today have evolved in three stages, leaving us with three levels to process stuff.

  1. ”Croc brain,” or crocodile brain- It is the oldest one to develop. It is the brain’s primitive part, that is devoted mainly to the things responsible for our survival. It triggers basic and robust emotions too. This part of the brain manages new information. It responds to a sales pitch in three ways: by dismissing the information as not useful, identifying it as a threat or by approving the message for further review by the midbrain.
    Nine out of 10 messages that enter the crocodile brain end up getting coded. Like if they find it annoying, they’ll ignore it, if dangerous they’ll fight it or run away. And if complicated, they will radically summarize and pass it in severely truncated form (a lot of information gets lost in the process)
  2. Midbrain- Next, your message travels to the midbrain, which adds meaning and context. It also determines the purpose of things and social situations.
  3. Neocortex- This is the most advanced part of the brain. It is in charge of thinking and analyzing complex issues and logical reasoning. With the problem-solving ability, it can rationalize facts.

When you’re pitching someone, it first goes into their croc brain. Therefore, you should begin with simple concepts initially.

If you start with complicated stuff, the chances are that the primitive ‘croc brain’ will ignore the message and you become invisible to the audience’s mind.

Given the limited focus and capacity of the croc brain, up to 90 percent of your message gets discarded before it’s passed on up to the midbrain and then on to the neocortex.

If you don’t want the message to get ignored by crocodile brain, then you need to prepare your pitch with some exciting ideas and concepts.

The best pitches follow this sequence: STRONG:

  1. Set the frame
  2. Tell the story
  3. Reveal the intrigue
  4. Offer the prize
  5. Nail the hook point
  6. Get the deal

Pitch Anything Summary Chapter 2: Frame Control

Oren believes that as far as frame control is concerned, the less you say, the more effective you will be. “Only one frame will dominate after the exchange, and the other frames will be subordinate to the winner.”

A successful pitch depends on your ability to build strong frames.

A frame is a perspective; it is merely giving someone a lens to see what you see. Everyone uses frames, whether they realize it or not, and every social encounter brings frames together.

In business and sales, you cannot crack a deal if you have two different perspectives for the same product or service. It is evident that when people come together, their frames collide, with one eventually winning over the other.

Stronger frames always absorb weaker frames. In words of Oren, you have to Own the Frame, to Win the Game.

During an interaction, if you realize that things are not going your way and whatever the other person is doing sounds ineffective to you, then you are frame-controlled. Oren says that defiance and humor are the keys to seizing the frame.

He recommends approaching this whole thing with a “playful” mindset. Imagine it’s a game which you are enjoying. Let’s take a look at the opposing frames you’ll encounter:

The Power Frame

When you deal with customers, who have an ego or are least interested in listening to you, these are usually people who have big titles or feel some entitlement. Unfortunately, this kind of people is inevitable in business.

You have to face them in and out. While dealing with such people, you’ll see that they listen to the first few seconds of what you have to say, then form judgments on what they’ll do next.

A defiant and humorous approach is the only way to bust a power frame. Make them realize that they are in the presence of a pro.

Let’s say you are making a pitch, and the other person is busy playing on their smartphone and not paying attention to your presentation.

An experienced salesman would have tackled it this way, “Hey, dear I would just hate to have to use my superpowers to take your smartphone from you while I finish my amazing presentation” While you do this make sure you are smiling big at him.”

He is now going to be super focused for the rest of the duration of your presentation.

But make sure to be a little defiant or deny them what they want from you while at the same time being funny and friendly and you will win frame control of the situation. But, keep your point boldly.

The Intrigue Frame

When the target agreed to the meeting with you, what he or she meant was that he is interested in your product. No one takes a meeting to hear about something they already know and understand.

You have a solution to one of his problems. You know something that he doesn’t. It is what will give you the power and a reason for people to hear your pitch.

At the start of the presentation, they’ll be listening to you with full concentration because they are trying to figure out the answer to what they don’t know.

The moment targets discover that the answer is close to what they had earlier guessed, they will mentally check out on you. As your pitch moves along, they will start losing interest.

So what’s the solution? Be the center of the story, or in other words, share your personal story. People want to know how you have faced obstacles and overcome them.

Now the key here is telling them only a part of the story. Don’t let them feel they understand it at all!

Keep your story exciting and the subject relevant to your pitch. Let the story be triggered by various emotions, like risk, fear, tension, uncertainty, etc. Do abide by the time pressure.

The Time Frame

After that, you use the ‘time frame,’ saying, for example, ‘Unfortunately this is a temporary offer, I will make this decision by the end of the day at the most.’ That will make the public think they could lose a great opportunity not to move fast.

Buyers make use of this frame at the very beginning of the meeting and make you feel small.

Customer: “Hey, I only have 5 minutes, but come in.”

You: “Thank you for your time. Thanks for fitting me into your busy schedule.”

Now, this is the wrong approach. This way you have handed him all the power to bust your frame into pieces. Instead, you should burst it like that

Customer: “Hey, I only have 5 minutes, but come in.”

You: “Sorry I don’t work like that, we can’t reschedule unless I know we can work well together and trust each other. I need to know if you’re the kind of person who can keep an appointment, and stick to a schedule?”
Customer: “yes you’re right; that’s no problem; come in.”

This way you have broken his time frame. Now he will value your time and give you all the required attention.

Analyst Frame

When the target is only worried about hearing analytics, figures, and numbers, they’re using the analyst frame. If you get trapped, you’ll waste your time spitting out numbers and projections that most people will not be interested in listening.

The most effective way to overcome the analyst frame is with an intriguing story. Tell them a compelling story, a personal narrative that involves you. Keep their attention by not telling them how it ends.

An intriguing story breaks analytical thinking with narrative discourse. So as soon as you see an analyst frame coming, use the intriguing story.

Just Remember, when you own the frame, you control the agenda, and you can only determine the rules under which the game is played.

The Prizing Frame

Now this one is an incredibly important frame. Oren says that “Prizing is the sum of the actions you take to get your target to understand that he is a commodity and you are the prize.” Never let it go another way around.

People confuse money with the prize. Money is never a prize; it’s a commodity, a means for getting things done.

Position yourself as the prize and someone who the client would be privileged to work with you. You make the buyer qualify himself to you. Just remember that if you do not value yourself, no one else will. Don’t hesitate to walk away if the other side doesn’t give you what you want.

For example- If the key decision maker isn’t in the room when the meeting starts, hold your ground. Do not start. Wait 15 minutes and even after that if that person doesn’t show, get up and politely leave.

And if someone asks you should come across as someone picky about working with others.

The Moral Authority Frame

The key here is to protect yourself with a strong moral character. Klaff writes that “Show the brain something that society values, and you won’t just be hitting hot buttons, you’ll be stomping on them.”

For example- Klaff discloses how he won a significant investment deal to revive an older airport in California.

While his competitors were busy focusing on numbers, plans, spreadsheets, peoples’ backgrounds, etc., Klaff focused on the diverse history of the airport and how his team would respect its heritage and make important contributions to the airport’s local community”.

In short, tie your sales pitch into a more significant issue that the buyer will value.

Now once we have understood the frames, let’s talk about another concept called Plowing.

Plowing

Oren says that when you pitch, Always move forward, never stop moving, and do not show self-doubt.  Just because you have frame control doesn’t mean that there will be no social pressures or discomforts.

People will push back, but you need to stay committed to your frame and keep it strong. You plow. This sticking is called plowing. Example- As an ox plowing a field, it is always moving forward. Just do it the same way.

Just because you have frame control doesn’t mean that someone won’t push back. You stay committed to your frame and keep it strong. You plow.”

Pitch Anything Summary Chapter 3: Status

Status works in close interrelation to the frames. The person with the highest status is most likely to hold the most powerful frame. Therefore, fitting in and having high social status is essential. It enables you to make an easy and strong pitch.

If you do not have a high status, the other person will dominate, and you will not get the attention required to make your pitch heard. Frame Control seeks out the Alpha status in a social group.

But, don’t hold in the Alpha position through aggression, dominance or force. “A beta trap is a subtle but effective social ritual that puts you in the low-status position and works to keep you there, beneath the decision maker you have come to visit, for the entire duration of the social interaction.”

Keep the following points in mind:

  1. Don’t get affected by your customer’s global status (wealth, power, popularity), i.e., his status inside and outside the business environment. However, global status is fixed. It’s the only situational status that you can control.
  2. Alpha and beta are situational, and a person may enter the situation as a beta or alpha. A beta trap puts you in the low-status position and works to keep you there, for the entire duration of the social interaction. So, Avoid beta traps at all costs.
  3. To confirm your alpha status use phrases like: “Remind me again why in the world I want to do business with you?” and “Have you ever done a deal this large before?” It will give a natural blow to your alpha status.
  4. In case you recognize the beta trap, then you need to see if you can reframe the situation to break out of it.  Look for opportunities to perpetrate defiances that strengthen your frame and elevate your status. Remember to be challenging and funny.
  5. The faster you grab status, the more is available for you to take. Momentum is the key here. So make a quick move.
  6.  As soon as you take power, redirect the discussion into an area where you are the domain expert. It is called local star power. So, the first thing you should do is establish your local star power.
  7. Once you leave the meeting, the local star power is gone. You’ll have to re-establish it again at the next meeting.
  8. Also never be late for a meeting. When you are late, you are giving away power. Always be on time for the appointment.  Example- A lot of people uses small betas traps to force you into a beta position. For example, making you wait many hours to give your pitch, is a great beta trap. Therefore, ignore doing anything that provides alpha status to your opponent.

Pitch Anything Summar Chapter 4: Pitching Your Big Idea

The pitch should have four phases.

Phase 1: Introduce Yourself and the Big Idea in 5 minutes

Even before you think about explaining your idea, give people your background. However, there is no point in spending 15 minutes or longer on the background.

Rather than one great, one good and one mediocre thing, stop with one great thing. Only big things are worth talking about. Get your track record on the table, and do it fast, clean, and problem-free.

Nobody likes to waste time on old deals. The target is interested in a new idea that came to life from a pattern of forces that you recognized, seized, and are now taking advantage of.” An idea introduction pattern for establishing the big idea:

For (target customers)

Who are dissatisfied with (the current offering in the market)?

Our product/service is (a new idea/product category)

That provides a solution to (key customer problems).

Unlike (the competing product),

We have (differentiating key features).

Instead of showing a long and complicated analysis, speak briefly about the economic, social, and technological aspects and forces that make your business critical and justify the investment at that time.

Phase 2: Explain the budget and secret sauce (10 minutes)

All the essential stuff must fit into the audience’s limits of attention, which for most people is about 20 minutes. When information novelty is low, the focus will drift away, so keep information novelty high.

Don’t dwell too much on the figures; focus on demonstrating excellence in budgeting. Do not hesitate to talk about your competitors. Then talk about how you can give an edge over the competition.

And allow your financial projections to indicate that if plans fail, your company have enough cash to last a few bad quarters.

Secret Sauce

Briefly describe your competitive advantages, the unfair advantage you have over others. What gives you staying power against the competition.

Phase 3: Offer the deal (2 minutes)

In clear and simple terms, tell them what they’ll get when they’ll do business with you. Keep it brief but include all the essential details, so there are no doubts or questions. Remember, the most critical deliverable in your deal is you.

Phase 4: Stack frames for a hot cognition

In decision making, however, we don’t do much analysis, if any at all. We go with our gut. To generate a positive gut reaction, you should know how to stack frames up one after the other.

Pitch Anything Summary Chapter 5: Frame Stacking and Hot Cognitions

As per Oren, “When the target starts getting analytical and cold, it’s time for the four-frame hot cognition stack to enter the pitch.” Stack these four frames to trigger the prospect’s croc brain:

  1. Hot Cognition 1: The intrigue frame- People want to know how you faced obstacles and overcome them.
  2. Hot Cognition 2: The prize frame- The prize frame positions you like the most crucial party in the deal.
  3. Hot Cognition 3: The time frame- The addition of time pressure to a decision-making event reduces decision quality.
  4. Hot Cognition 4: The moral authority frame- To create a desire in the target’s mind and to go on from the pitch to the hook point, every presenter has to use hot cognitions to create wanting and desire.

Pitch Anything Summary Chapter 6: Eradicating Neediness

Showing signs of neediness is the worst thing you can do to your pitch. Nobody wants to work with a needy entrepreneur who is running low on cash. Neediness is a signal of a threat.

Neediness triggers uncertainty, which causes a person’s croc brain to take over, not in the right way.

Here are some phrases of Neediness:

    1 “Do you still think it’s a good deal?”

    2 “So, what do you think?”

    3 “We can sign a deal right away if you want us to.”

When we want something that only the target can give us, like money, we set the stage for neediness. Three main rules of the Tao

 Try to eliminate your desires, at least in the eyes of the public. It’s not necessary to want things. Sometimes you have to let them come to you.

Be excellent in the presence of others. Show people one thing that you are very good at.

Withdraw. The moment your audience expects you to chase after their money, do not do it. Just step back a bit. If the situation worsens, walk away saying something like “I’m not convinced about the deal.”

That will make them chase after you. It will demonstrate your strengths, and confidence that targets will admire. 

Pitch Anything Summary Chapter 7: Case Study: The Airport Deal

Every pitch should tell a story. Eliminate the neediness. The brain is wired to do things to achieve status, not money. The mind continually calculates how each social encounter will increase or decrease its status.

Pitch Anything Summary Chapter 8: Get in the Game

  1. Step1: Learn to recognize beta traps and how to step around them. It will train your mind to think in a frame-based way.
  2. Step 2: Use four basic frames to avoid beta traps. If you are not able to master the technique, it will come naturally to you.
  3. Step 3: Identify and label social frames. You’ll encounter power frames, time frames, and analyst frames more often in sales.
  4. Step 4: Practice frame collisions with safe targets. Don’t forget to use humor and a soft touch. Without it, you will appear rude and arrogant and trigger wrong emotions.
  5. Step 5: The small acts of defiance and denial create a certain amount of conflict and tension. Push and Pull. Delivering these acts with a soft touch reassures the target’s croc brain that there is no kind of danger. In case you are struggling at this stage, then pause.
  6. Step 6: Frame control can’t be forced because this takes the fun out of it. It is a fun game that you bring to every target with whom you meet. In case you find yourself forcing the method, lighten up a little.
  7. Step 7: Work with other frame masters. Seek out others who are better than you and as you advance, teach others. Keep it simple. Stick to a few frames that work for you. It is a game where you define and can change the rules.

Conclusion

Pitch Anything is an absolute must-read for anyone involved in selling products, services, and ideas to others. Also, you should create your pitch on a neurological level; people’s brain should positively perceive everything and not anything that works against you.

Always hold the alpha position during the presentation and avoid the beta traps.

You might also like to read the Summary of “The Psychology of Selling” by Brian Tracy.

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Aishwarya Goenka
Articles: 15