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howtopitch1“How can we distinguish ourselves from the competition when what we are offering is so similar?” That is the first line of the book, How to Win A Pitch, by Joey Asher, an Atlanta-based sales presentation coach and President of the nationally-recognized consulting firm Speechworks. (Joey is also someone I know personally, so I am happy to share the great information he offers in his book.)

While his book targets professionals who are pitching to win business or a project for themselves or their organizations, his advice is absolutely essential for job seekers to learn and understand.

Joey offers readers all of the fundamentals to consider when trying to communicate their value to another person or group. Sound familiar? That’s exactly what you’re doing in a job hunt – trying to make a strong connection to someone to convince them to hire you. Here is a run-down of the fundamentals and their job search applications:

Fundamental #1. Present a solution and nothing else.  All too often, people start presentations by talking about themselves. “Before we start, let me tell you about how our company began . . .” Who cares? Your prospect only cares about is how you can save them money, grow their revenues, or reduce their risk. Detail your plan to help your prospect and tell stories about how the plan has worked for others.

Job search application: Hiring managers care about what they want to know and how you solve their problems. You need to learn how to identify and hone in on the most important information to them in order to win the job.

Fundamental #2. Keep it simple. Resist the urge to cover too much ground in the presentation. Pound away at three messages. “We’ll build your project on time. We’ll meet your budget. We’ll deliver quality work.” Simplicity always separates you from the competition.

Job search application – Sending a 3-page resume detailing every thing you have done in the last 25 years and/or going on and on ad naseum in an interview is NOT going to win you the job. Focus on the basics – how you have what they want. Demonstrate why and how.

Fundamental #3. Speak with Passion. If you’re one of three firms competing, you know that your competition can do a great job.  But as one CEO explained, “When it’s close, many of the decisions just come down to who connects with us best.”.  Passion in the voice helps you connect.

Job search application – You need to realize that you are probably not the only one who could do this job. You might not even be the best qualified. But if you can connect with the hiring managers and communicate better than the competition, you will earn the job.

Fundamental #4. Leave half of your time for questions. Questions address what your prospect wants to hear. Your answers almost always separate you. Your competition often makes Q&A an afterthought. Consequently, you can gain an advantage by considering the questions on the front-end.

Job search application – Questions are key. Typically, you’re the one answering the questions (in an interview), so answers are important, but it is also important to ASK good questions. Sometimes, a few well-placed questions can really set the job seeker ahead of the crowd.

Fundamental #5. Rehearse. One CEO who has had hundreds of sales presentations stated, “I can always tell who has rehearsed.” Most people don’t rehearse much. Practicing sets you apart.

Job-search application – I always advise my clients to practice answers to potential interview questions out loud – not inside of their heads! Hearing how you sound and even watching how you look in a mirror can really make a difference in the outcome. I sometimes suggest talking to a pet, or even a stuffed animal!

Joey’s book can be a great help for job seekers who could use some help presenting a solution that works, focusing on a simple message so the target can connect, demonstrating passion and managing anxiety. As an added bonus, it is a perfect resource for anyone who needs to “win” presentations once landing in their targeted jobs!

You can buy the book here. I also highly recommend Joey’s Talking Points blog for a lot of great tips about how to communicate and present to win!

Need some help getting your targeted message together? I can help! Follow THIS LINK to learn more about me and how I can help you shorten your search and land the job you want!

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  • The problem in pitching is not making the pitch – it’s knowing what to pitch. Most candidates jump into the interview without understanding the hiring manager’s pain.

    What needs to be improved, how should costs be reduced, what new programs need to be launched, why is execution failing, what processes need to be changed?

    Without understanding these Success Factors, anything the candidate says in the interview is irrelevant. The author is correct that hiring managers really couldn’t give a hoot about you personally at the beginning of the interview. They want to know how you can help them overcome their pain.

    Unfortunately, most hiring managers don’t know how to describe their pain in an interview – therefore – you as the candidate need to extract that pain early in the interview process with questions in the first 5 minutes such as “What are the 3 things I’ve got to do in the job so that at the end of my first year you’ll feel like you’ve made a successful hire”. What are the two key results you’re looking for in this role within the first 90 days”.

    Extract their pain – then you can make your pitch. Your accomplishments, the skills you bring, how you’ve done similar things in similar environments.

    That’s how you get hiring managers to sit up and pay attention in an interview.

    • Miriam Salpeter

      Barry – Yes, knowing what to pitch is key, but even if you know the right things to say, if you don’t communicate them clearly and in a way that resonates with the hiring manager, all of your efforts to understand the company’s “pain” will be in vein! I think both pieces are equally important for job seekers to understand and put into play for their search.