Do you have what it takes to sell your cause to sophisticated financiers?

As a businessman and a philanthropist, I am approached by hundreds of people every year pitching me their respective causes and ideas….Some real polished and smart, others amazingly ineffective and clueless.

I thought I’d share with you some basic tips as to how you could make your pitch as effective as can be to get my attention…cutting the chase altogether.

First, what makes someone smart?

I’ve known a lot of very bright people but their limit of understanding centers around one particular domain. I’ve known others where you could have a conversation with them around literally any topic. I think the key difference is that everyone has some understanding around specific issues. The key is to not inundate sophisticated financiers you are approaching with a lot of BS, but be very transparent and open about your value proposition and extremely mindful of their time. Engagement is key. If you cannot find common ground around an issue they are facing then you might want to cut your losses. Yes personal connections are important; but when push comes to shove – and you need them to commit the fact that you both “like wine/race vintage cars/have kids at the same school/etc.” – this will only take you so far…. Smart people like to buy from other smart people.

I’ve in fact found smarter people require more logic to build rapport earlier on in the sales cycle. Opposed to someone who is not smart (defined however you define it) where emotion can be delivered earlier on. It’s almost as if the smarter person requires logic from you in order to open their mind for the possibility of a deeper emotional connection.

Providing an early logical approach to a smart person does two things:

1. It proves to them you’re smart…or smart enough where they’ll listen more.

2. More importantly, you’ve demonstrated to them that you’ve acknowledged they’re smart by using a more logical approach.

The moment you’ve earned their respect while simultaneously respecting their intelligence is when the barrier comes down and you can emotional connect.

A great pitcher will gauge the intellect, education, and interests of a buyer within the first 30 seconds of a phone call, email response, or face to face encounter. It’s tough, but every word, punctuation, and reference leaves a clue. From their email signature, twitter feed, to their body language, every piece is important. As time goes on, it’s getting easier to identify their intelligence online because there are so many data points.

Note: I’m talking in terms of cold(er) selling, where you’ve had little to no contact with the person prior.

So what are some of the key general guidelines for your consideration in selling to sophisticated financiers?

1. Truly understand their needs by asking lots of good questions & uncovering a significant pain or a personal gain.

2. Believe in what you are selling and stand behind their success than your own which will come as a result. In other words, pitch in such a way that they come to the conclusion that they want to buy your product on their own. It’ll be much easier if it’s their idea, not yours.

3. Make sure they see the value. It’s in fact best if they already know the value — that’s why the best pitchers spend their time looking for people who can convince themselves of the value (as opposed to spending time trying to convince people of the value they may not see).

4. Offer a price commensurate with the value. If the product or service is luxury make sure the price is slightly higher than the value, because price has signaling power. If the product or service is better-faster-cheaper, make sure the price is a bargain — with or without explicit discounts.

5. Have a structure for your pitch/conversation but most importantly, allow them to feel like they are in control of the conversation (so you have to be dominant in a non aggressive way).

6. Anecdotes are key. People love examples, especially in the form of cute and short stories. Great pitchers always have a few of them to tickle the imagination, and to create a tangible situation that the customer can strive for.

Oh, and by the way, smart people are easier to sell to than the other end of the spectrum if you know how to go about it.

Share your thoughts.

Written by

Ziad Abdelnour is a political activist and is the Founder and President of the United States Committee for a Free Lebanon.