Pitching: turning ‘NO’ into ‘YES!’

Richard, (not his real name) didn’t want to be ‘salesy’.?‍♂️

But he was failing miserably to clinch his multi-million dollar deal in Abu Dhabi.

So he relied on his pitch deck and failed…THREE times.

He changed several techniques to turn that multi-loss into a MASSIVE win – and none of these changes concerned his pitch deck.

Even better, he didn’t have to be ‘salesy’ either.

Here’s what you need to consider when pitching.

Sit back and listen to this 8 minute lesson of loss and GAIN?


This is the story of Richard. Richard and his pitch, and how he turned three ‘no’s’ into one ‘YES’ from the same client.

And I have a little confession to make, Richard is not his real name, I am protecting the guilty.

He turned the no’s into a ‘yes’ by paying attention to several factors that are often overlooked in pitches. Want to know what they are? Stay with me, I shall tell all…

Hi I’m Frankie Kemp from frankiekemp.com, People Skills for Geeks, helping professionals in tech become less vanilla and more thriller.

Richard worked for a large financial house in New York and he was sent over to Abu Dhabi to seal a very lucrative deal. So he had his pitch deck and he got in the plane he flew over to Abu Dhabi, showed the hosts his pitch deck and they all went “Mashallah. Shukran”, and then nothing else.

So he got back on the plane, he flew over to New York and his boss said to him “Do it again, Richard.”

So, he gets back on the plane, he shows them the same pitch deck and then they say to him “Thank you. Bye bye.”

So he gets back on the plane, he flies back over to New York and his boss turns around and says”Do it again, Richard”.

So he gets back on the plane, he shows the same people that same pitch deck again, they say, “Thank you very much.  Bye bye.”  Not a bean.

He gets back on the plane, goes to New York and you can guess what his boss said.  “Do it again, Richard.”.

So he gets back on the plane but this time he flies over to London and he comes to see me.

His pitch deck turned out to be excellent: no information that was unnecessary and everything very clearly drawn out, but that wasn’t what was going to get the deal.

I said, “The next time you go, you’re going to do the business and it’ll be in a restaurant and this is how you will behave in the
restaurant, Richard. You will speak and when you speak about something that you are committed to and you want to show great conviction, you’re going to make some non-verbal adjustments.”

“What were they you may ask?”

Well, the first things are that when you are in a culture that’s anywhere between Italy to Iran there’s three things that they do differently when they’re speaking about something where they want to show a lot of commitment and belief. So, the first thing is the gestures tend to be higher on keywords.

The second is that you will maintain eye contact for a bit longer, maybe a second or two longer than is comfortable in say Anglo-Saxon cultures.  Then the third point is to put a little bit more volume behind the keywords because in Abu Dhabi if you were to try and be discreet and hushed in the restaurant then what would happen is that they would think that
you were trying to hide something.

But I’m not saying that you need to shout across the restaurant.

So I’m going to show you the difference between doing something in an Anglo-Saxon way and then just tweaking it for Abu Dhabi. So it would look and sound like this.

This is the Anglo-Saxon way:

“You’ll get a very high return on your investment,” then I look around at the table.

In Abu Dhabi:

“You’ll get a very high return on your investment.”

So you can hear you’ve got a little bit more power behind the high return.

The next point to remember is timing and I told Richard this would really frustrate him and he was to maintain composure
because this is how it’s going to work.

“You’ll go in, you’ll have this dinner and throughout the dinner they’ll be asking you about yourself, about your family, your values, hobbies, education – anything but the actual deal because what they’re trying to do is work out, are you the kind of person that they really want to partner with?

They’re checking you out for your values.

Then the dessert will come and they still won’t mention the deal and you’ll be sitting there going, “When are they going to talk about this? Why am I here?”

Be composed, it’s all good. After the dessert, the tea will come. When the tea comes the conversation will very swiftly turn to the business, but you mustn’t do it because, like a pack of cards, it will all fall down because you’ll look desperate if you try and initiate the conversation. Let them do it.

When they do it they’ll just say, “Well let’s just talk about this.”  And then all you want is a maximum of five minute summary of how this is gonna benefit them. Once you’ve done that, that’s it.

Stay shtum, say nothing. This all happened, it all rolled out.

End of the meal comes, they turn to the business of the business and he gives his five-minute pitch.

They turn around and they say, “Richard, we would be very happy to partner with you.”

And the next day they signed the deal.

So there were several elements that were really important in this exchange.

So firstly, there was the point of timing. Making sure that you have different types of pitches. Do you have a five minute one? Maybe you need a 15 minute one? Maybe you need a 20 minute one? You need to be prepared for different circumstances so you have them in your back pocket.

The next is the non-verbals. Meeting somebody who is familiar with that culture will actually help you to get the right non-verbals and these make a massive difference in how you get the deal past the line and, in fact, if you get the deal past the line.

So we have the timing, we also have the non-verbals and then culture. So culture really affects all of these other elements and culture can be business culture, or it could be the national culture but also meeting people who are acquainted with that culture so that they can help you get the right approach for your audience will make you come across as more credible.

So all of these are nothing to do with your pitch deck, although your pitch deck is incredibly important.  By itself it will not seal the deal. It’s your interpersonal skills: the non-verbals, timing and your familiarity with culture that will help you get a deal past the line so you get the finance and the people that you need in order to make your aspirations become a reality.


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