Book Notes – Pitch Anything – Oren Klaff

This is one of my informal book summaries. Every book that I read is turned into notes. I like to reflect on those notes every so often depending on what is going on in the world and what other articles I’m writing.

  • All information presented to a person is first passed through the “croc brain”
    • If it isn’t seen as an emergency or immediate threat then the croc brain will not send it on up the chain to your mid brain and neo cortex
    • 9 out of 10 pitches are trapped in the croc brain
  • When you are making a presentation, your neo cortex is what is doing the presenting, but you are trying to appeal to the audience’s croc brain
  • Make sure your message fulfills two objectives:
    • Don’t trigger fear alarms
    • Make sure it gets recognized as something positive, unexpected, and out of the ordinary. A pleasant novelty.
  • The formula:
    • Set the frame – put your idea into an easily understood contex
    • Sieze high social status – have a solid platform
    • Create messages that are full of intrigue and novelty
  • STRONG
    • Set the frame
    • Tell the story
    • Reveal the intrigue
    • Offer the prize
    • Nail the hook point
    • Get the deal
  • Understand how to harness and control the power of frames
    • Every person in a business setting has their own frame. Every social encounter brings multiple frames together.
    • The stronger frame will win and absorb the weaker frame
    • The winning frame governs a social interaction
  • When  you fail to control the social frame, you have probably already lost
  • Frame based business uses the laws of social dynamics. Stack things in your favor before the sales game even begins.
  • Frame control begins before the pitch even starts.
  • A frame is the instrument you use to package your information, authority, power, strength, and status
  • Everybody uses frames whether they realize it or not
  • Think of an officer pulling you over for speeding
    • Your frame is weak, your frame is built from “the flow of traffic, I’m a nice guy, I didn’t know the speed limit
    • The officer’s frame is strong. He’s backed up by the law, a radar gun, and social status
    • Your croc brain goes into defense mode as soon as you see those lights flashing in your rearview mirror.
    • If you have to explain your “authority” or rationalize your power then you DO NOT own the frame
  • Ask yourself: what kind of frame am I up against?
  • There are 3 major types of frames that you will normally have to deal with in a business setting:
  • Power Frame
  • Time Frame
  • Analyst Frame
  • There are 3 major response frames to respond with when you meet these frames:
  • Power busting frame – use a mildly shocking but not unfriendly act to cause this. Use defiance and light humor. This captures attention.
    • Story about executive drawing on back of paper while hearing a pitch. Take the paper and make a joke about negotiating with him on what he would charge for the drawing.
  • Time constraining frame
    • You walk in to a meeting and they say they only have 10 minutes to meet with you. Tell them that 10 minutes is not enough and assert that it is important to be able to keep time if you are to work together. Tell them that if they only have 10 minutes now then you will come back when they can give you 30 minutes.
  • Intrigue frame
    • The moment your audience does a deep dive into the technical details of what you are pitching, they will go cold. Nothing will freeze your pitch faster than allowing your audience to view statistics or other items that can cause them to go into analyst mode. You must control the flow of information. Separate the technical detailed material from your presentation. Respond with summary data that you  have prepared for this specific purpose. Remind them that you are there to determine if you are a good fit and the technical details can be reviewed later. Keep the target focused on the business relationship.
  • 4th kind that is universal is the “Prize frame”
    • When you prize, you put yourself in a high value position. 
    • Prizing is the sum of the actions that you take to let your target know that he is a commodity, and you are the prize.
    • Look at the world from a frame as if you are the prize.
    • Trigger curiosity and desire.
    • Make the buyer qualify themselves to you (why would i want to do business with you?)
    • Protect your status. Don’t let the buyer change the location, meeting time, etc…
  • Humor is important!
  • Status
    • Status plays an important role in frame control
    • How others view you is critical to establishing the dominant frame, and how you are able to take control when you win the frame collision.
    • You don’t earn status by being polite or engaging in the same small talk that everyone else does. This is “being nice”
    • People confuse status with charisma or ego. These are completely different things.
    • In most cases you enter a new situation with a low social status (unless you are a celebrity, big executive, etc.. that everyone knows)
    • The harder you try to fit in to a group, the more people will think that you have a low social status.
  • Avoid “Beta” traps
    • Subtle but effective social ritual that puts you in the low status position
    • Public spaces are the most deadly beta traps and should be avoided (coffee shops, trade shows, conventions etc..)
      •  There are too many distractions to frame control in these situations
  • Politely ignore power rituals and avoid beta traps
  • Be unaffected by the customer’s Global status
  • Look for opportunities to perpetrate small denials and defiances that strengthen your frame
  • As soon as you take power quickly move the conversation to the area/topic where you are the expert
  • Position yourself as the prize – apply a prize frame that makes doing business with YOU as the prize
  • Confirm your alpha status by making the customer say something about you that qualifies your higher status
    • One of the best ways is to make the customer defend himself in a light-hearted way
      • Remind me again why in the world I would ever want to do business with you?? Makes them laugh, keep it playful and interesting
      • Have you ever done a deal this large before??
  • Pitching your big idea
    • Give a complete presentation in a short time frame – attention runs dry after about 20 minutes
    • The target must feel at ease as soon as the presentation starts
      • Solution – the time constraint pattern (guys let’s get started, I only have about 20 minutes to pitch my big idea which will leave us some time to talk it over. After that, I have to get out of here)
    • Make your pitch in 4 stages
      • Introduce yourself and your big idea
        • 5 minutes
        • Give people your background in a specific way – after your frame setting you can begin your pitch with a quick rundown of your SUCCESSES. This should only take about 2 minutes. Just give them the great successes.
        • “Why now” frame. Show your target that this idea is NEW. The market needs this now. You have more knowledge about this than anyone else
          • Economic forces – what has changed financially in the market for your big idea?
          • Social forces – highlight what emerging changes in people’s behavior show a need for your product
          • Technology forces – technological change can flatten business models. Describe the genesis of your idea and tell your product’s backstory. Give the steps of evolution in your products. 
      • Explain your budget and your “secret sauce”
        • 10 minutes
        • Pitching numbers and projections
          • Unrealistic budgets and miscalculating costs are the top reasons that start-ups fail
          • Focus on demonstrating your skill on budgeting (NOT FORECASTING) which is a highly regarded executive talent.
          • The attractiveness of an idea is based upon the industry that it’s in and the competition.
          • The two best ways to explain competition are:
            • How easy is it for new competitors to jump in the game?
            • How easy is it for customers to jump out of your product and into a competitor’s product?
        • Secret Sauce
          • You’ll need to show what your competitive advantage is based on.
          • This is the “unfair” advantage you have over others.
          • Just describe the fundamental workings of your big idea.
        • Remember to keep this all within 10 minutes.
      • Offer the deal
        • 2 minutes
        • Describe to the audience what they are going to receive when they do business with you.
        • In clear and concise terms tell them what, when, and how you are going to deliver this to them.
        • Summarize facts and keep this short.
        • Explain the fulfilllment process from a high level that is easy to understand.
      • Stack frames for a hot cognition
        • 3 minutes
        • Deciding you like something before you understand it is a “hot cognition”
        • We tend to like and dislike things before we know much about them
        • Most major decisions aren’t made by cold cognitive processes, they are made by quick hot cognitions
        • We buy the things we like, and then we justify the reasonings to other people after making the decisions
        • Even when we make a list of pros and cons, if it doesn’t come out how we like then we will change the list and rationalize our decision afterward
        • Four Frame hot cognition stack:
          • Once we get through this deal, and we know we can close deals, I’m going to do “X” (introduce you to someone, offer something)
            • Hot cognition 1: Intrigue
            • How to build an intrigue frame
              • 1. Put a man in the jungle
              • 2. Have beasts attack him
              • 3. Will he get to safety?
          • The market is on fire right now.. I have “X” (other investors) begging me for this deal. If you work hard and prove yourself then you can have this deal.
            • Hot cognition 2: Prizing
            • How to build a prize frame:
              • 1. I have one of the better deals in the market.
              • 2. I’m choosy about who i work with.
              • 3. It seems that I could work with you, but really I need to know more.
              • 4. Please give me some material and credentials on  yourself.
              • 5. I still need to figure out if we would work well together and be good partners.
              • 6. What do your last business partners say about you?
              • 7. If things go sideways, how do you handle it? Can you tell me how you react with things get tough?
              • 8. My existing partners are super choosy about who I bring into the deal. You don’t only have to convince me that you would be a good fit, but you need to empower me to be able to go back to my partners and convince them that you would be a good fit.
              • Affection or contempt is the hot part of the message
              • Prize frame relies on how strong your conviction is
              • Prize frame doesn’t only come from the words that you say, but how you are organized internally. These are the words that you need to say and believe to yourself before you implement the prize frame.
                • 1. I am the prize.
                • 2. You are trying to impress me.
                • 3. You are trying to win my approval.
          • I’d love to give you until next week, but this market is hot and you have to make a decision by Friday. It’s OK if you say no, but Friday is D-Day.
            • Hot cognition 3: Time Frame
            • In nearly all instances, adding in a time constraint reduces the quality of the decision that is made.
              • Example: The car sale ends at the end of the day.
            • The potential loss of a deal causes fear.
            • We don’t want this to seem like a cheap sales tactic.
            • Time is a factor in every deal. Find the right balance between fairness and pressure.
            • Nobody likes time pressure. I don’t like it, and you don’t like it, but good deals are like an amtrak train or a deal train. They stop at the station, pick up investors, and have a set departure time. When it’s time, the train has to leave the station. You have plenty of time to decide if you like me and you want to do this deal. If you don’t love it, then you shouldn’t do it. But there is a real time frame, a critical path that everyone has to work with. So, really we need to decide by the 15th.
          • And I don’t need to tell you, we’ve done 150 billion in trades just this year without any interference from the SEC. We do things right over here, and igve you a fair price. Can you play by the rules?
            • Hot Cognition 4: Moral Authority
            • We evaluate each other constantly, we evaluate each others behaviors and we evaluate the motives and consequences of that behavior.
        • We don’t need to make the target like us at this point. The target just needs to want us or want what we are pitching.
      • Hot Cognition vs Cold Cognition
        • Think about chocolate (hot) vs spinach (cold)
        • We know what we want before the facts are laid out
        • People’s brains work by making decisions with hot cognition, but we try to force the cold cognition to make our decisions
        • Focus your energy on getting the targets’ croc brain to want your product
        • By stacking hot cognitions, we create a wanting in the targets’ brain
        • We only have about 30 seconds to transfer the targets’ desire into action
    • Keep your target alert by the release of dopamine and noraepinephrine in their brain. Novelty and tension are the two parts of the attention cocktail.
      • Dopamine release is caused by the anticipation of something new that they understand. A novelty. The movie Jaws.. they don’t show the shark until halfway through the movie. Think of a mystery novel or movie.
      • Noraepinephrine is used to keep tension. Here we are interested in pushing the target away and pulling them toward us. This is to keep the target alert. Tension comes from conflict. Remember that in narrative and frame based pitching, you must create tension in your pitch. It can’t all be smiles and happiness which will lose the target’s attention before long.
        • 3 tension patterns
          • Low key low intensity push pull – push: there’s a real possibility that we might not be right for each other, pull: then again, if it did work out then things could be great
          • Medium intensity – Push: There’s so much more to the deal than just the idea, there’s a venture capital group that doesn’t even care what the idea is: they just care about who is behind the idea. Pull: but that’s crazy to think, obviously you care about people over just ideas. I’ve met corporate robots before, and you are obviously not one of them. We have something in common; our value system.
          • High intensity – Push: based on the reactions i’m getting from you, this isn’t a good fit. I think you should only do deals where there is a strong trust and you believe in so let’s just wrap this up for now and agree to get together on the next one. Start packing up your stuff and be ready to leave if the target doesn’t stop you. Pull: if they don’t pull you back in then leave.
  • Eradicating neediness
    • People do not want to be rejected, but it is a way of life
    • Neediness sets off the target’s Croc brain in a bad way. They sense danger
    • Further rejection poses the threat for an emothional catastrophe
  • Ways that we set ourselves up for neediness
    • 1. When we want something that only the target can give us
    • 2. When we need cooperation from the target but we aren’t getting it it causes anxiety and frustration (target taking phone calls, scanning emails)
    • 3. Neediness is created inside of us when we believe that the target can make us feel good by saying yes
    • 4. Validation behaviors within us are triggered when the target seems uninterested in our pitch and begins to withdraw. We have a natural fear response and neediness is often apparent.
    • Need to avoid outward signs of neediness.
  • Ways to combat showing neediness
    • Having a strong time frame
    • 1. Want nothing
    • 2. Focus on things you do really well
    • 3. Announce your intention to leave the social encounter
    • 1. Eliminate your desires
    • 2. Be excellent in the presence of others
    • 3. Withdraw at the crucial moment when people are expecting you to come after them
    • People want what they can’t have

Why Now??How??Critical path

  • Get in the game
  • You have to package ideas for the croc brain in such a way that you are creating hot cognitions. Visual, emotional stimulus to create wanting
  • Be on the watch for opposing power frames and then win the ensuing frame collisions with better stronger frames. Then hold on to this frame by using small denials and defiance.
  • Have humor and have fun. Humor is not to relieve tension. It’s there to signal that even though the tension is real, you have the confidence to play around a little. People who  have lots of options are not uptight and don’t take themselves too seriously. This also invites others to join in.

Steps to learning the method

  1. Learn to recognize beta traps and how to step around them
  2. In a gradual way, start stepping around beta traps
  3. Identify and label social frames. Notice all the frames that are coming at you.
  4. Begin to initiate frame collisions with safe targets. Take over opposing frames in a fun light hearted way.
  5. The small acts of defiance and denial will create a small amount of conflict and tension. Deliver these with a soft touch to remind them that everything is OK, and they don’t need to be defensive.
  6. Frame control cannot be forced. This takes the fun out of it. This is a game for your own personal enjoyment. Just lighten up a little.
  7. Work with other frame masters.
Preston

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