Pitch anything — Summary

This book will show you how to persuade and achieve a dominant position

Karl’s commentary: The author of this book has an interesting approach to effective communication and persuation with a mix of neuroscience, psychology and economics. The idea is to fill the gap between what you are trying to communicate to your audience and how they perceive it. This book does that by trying to appeal to our “primitive brain” or what it calls the crocodile brain.

The human brain has evolved into three parts. The primitive reptilian brain has developed first, then came the midbrain and finally the more sophisticated neocortex. The reptilian brain mainly deals with survival and emotions like the desire to flee and mate, the midbrain understands more complex situations like social interactions and the neocortex enables understanding complex things like math.

When you try to convey something to another person that information first gets processed by the croc brain, so you have to tailor your message so that it passes that barrier and gets to the neocortex. Since croc brains are simple, your message must be simple and clearly understandable.

Create desire and attention

Research has shown that to attain attention you need to create desire and tension in the other person. Their brains respond with the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine as a result. They expect a reward and fear that they may lose something if they don’t pay attention.

The above desire is what the push-pull strategy is about. An example would be to say something like this on a date: “Maybe our thing isn’t meant to be.” followed by something like “But if it turns out to, that would be terrific.”

Establish a frame control

A frame means the perspective a person has, for example, a frame can be focused on ethics and values, intelligence, moral arguments etc. You must learn how to deal with other frames effectively in order to control them.

Some archetype frames are the analyst frame, the power frame, the time frame and the prize frame. If for instance, your target exudes the power frame by expressing arrogance, you must NOT do anything that validates the other person’s power. Instead, use acts of defiance and denial to bust the frame. You could, for instance, take your presentation material away from the target if they do not seem to take it seriously.

The time frame usually happens when your customer asserts that he has only so much time left, to bust the frame you counter that you have even less time.

The analyst frame happens when your customer gets into minor technical details trying to bog your pitch. In such situations, you can give a high-level response and go right back to your pitch. For example, if too many questions come up you can tell an unfinished story and then go back to your pitch, this redirects the focus onto you and makes the discussion personal once again.

The prize frame happens when your customer sees their money as the “prize” of the meeting. You should reframe the situation so that you position yourself as the prize and they would be lucky to do business with you.

Don’t do anything that reinforces the impression that the target is the prize. For example by saying something like “what do you think so far?” Instead, say something like “I really seek out only the best people to work with.”

Trigger hot cognitions from the start

We make hot and cold cognition. Hot cognitions mean decisions we make even before fully understanding them, cold cognitions are decisions we make after rational reasoning. The key is to trigger hot cognitions in the other person to pitch your idea. One way to do this is to introduce or stack multiple frames in quick succession without giving the other person time to think about them.

Neediness will be perceived as a threat, don’t be needy

The croc brain will run from neediness. Pushing away your customers. Don’t come through as needy, instead use a simple three-step formula.

First, try to eliminate your desires in the eyes of the target. Then focus on things you do well, your strengths. Third, withdraw at a crucial moment so that the target starts chasing you.

Attain an alpha status in every encounter or meeting

It is very difficult to persuade from a beta-position. So the best thing you can do is to establish an alpha position right from the start. There are numerous so-called beta traps your target may lay out for you. A classical situation is making you wait in the lobby.

You must ignore these traps and avoid doing anything that enforces your opponent’s alpha status. Use small acts of defiance and denial to grasp the situational alpha status from yourself as soon as you can.

Half joking assertions can be a great way to position yourself as alpha. For example, if someone lets you wait you could engage in another task like making a phone call if the person then appears or says something about it you could respond that “I have important stuff to do” in a half-joking manner. This will enforce your alpha status.

Once you’ve obtained the alpha status you must steer the discussion into a direction where you are the expert. A good jest can help you solidify your status, for example by saying something like “why on earth should I give you guys more of my time?”

Keep your pitch short and simple

For example instead of introducing yourself by rattling down your resume just outline your greatest successes. Don’t bore the audience with complex analysis, rather try to pitch them by jumping directly to the point, responding to their doubts.

Get this book

Also published on Medium.