Persuade Everybody About Anything by Adding a “Pitch”

If you want people to do as you wish, don’t tell them, sell them.

This is a simple rule that applies to almost any situation. I not only use it in my advertising copy, I use it to persuade my:

  • employees to act on my ideas
  • clients to follow through on my recommendations
  • vendors to give me good terms
  • colleagues to do deals with me
  • children to make sensible life choices
  • wife to be nice to me

And it always works — in five cases out of six. (You can guess which of the above I’m least successful with!)

A small example: I returned from a meeting in Paris a few weeks ago with an idea that I thought could improve the profitability of one of my clients.

But there was a problem. My recommendation was going to require him to make a fundamental change in the way he was doing business. He was already busy keeping the old system going. This new idea was going to seem like too much work for an unsure outcome.

My initial impulse was simply to tell him my idea and then, if he objected, argue with him.

Instead, I e-mailed him the following note:


I have a great idea for you.

It’s an idea I gave to “Peter” in London five years ago. He used it to create a $10 million business. Nobody is doing this in the States yet. You could be the first.

Here’s what you need to know now:

  • It is easy to do.
  • It is perfect for you.
  • It is a clever twist on something you already know.
  • But it is much more powerful than what you are doing now.

I can show you how to implement this idea in less than half an hour. I can give you a blueprint you can hand to your key people so they will know exactly what to do. I assure you that you will have this up and running in less than two weeks.

And if the results I’ve seen elsewhere hold true for you, your sales will increase by at least 300 percent by the end of the year.

One caveat: I like this idea so much that I’m tempted to give it to another client who has a similar business. I’m holding it for you — but only if you can assure me you will give it your full attention.

What do you say? Shall we schedule a meeting to go over it?

Yours truly,

Conclusion: He wrote back immediately to schedule a meeting.

When I presented the idea a week later, he brought a tape recorder and made notes on every point. My presentation itself was half information and half selling. Needless to say, he bought it — and it’s already starting to work for him.

Sometime soon — maybe in the next several hours — you will want to tell someone to do something. Instead, take a bit of extra time and sell your idea instead.

Let us know how it works out for you.