There was a time when the ability to sell/pitch/persuade via telephone was a critical point-of-entry skill into a PR career, like writing. As cubs we’d listen in on the conversations of our supervisors to see how it was done, get over our fear, and learn how to accept rejection “live,” and with the confidence that made the editor want to hear from us again. We learned to keep our dauber up and, as they say in sales, become comfortable with the “thank you for that no,” that just made us that much sharper on the next go round.
Though such verbal “pitching” may seem almost quaint in today’s virtual environment, it’s an experience chop you still need to hone; ignore it at your peril.
I always say that the ability to speak well and make a concise, compelling verbal “case” is the most important professional skill you can master — whether addressing a group, in a new business pitch, or a small meeting. This is your most effective tool in showing that you are someone worth hearing from, a leader in the making.
Your “soundbite-quality” verbal pitch skills are essential in every aspect of your professional and volunteer career — In every business encounter (the reason I’m calling…), in fundraising (will you support this cause?), in a job interview (I match what you’re looking for), for any professional request (will you be a mentor?), for every piece of advice (I seek your counsel), for every foot in the door (I offer value you need), and to make any sale (I can help you solve a problem).
As you assemble your skill set, consider augmenting with some classes in bonafide phone sales. These don’t need to be affiliated with a school if they aren’t offered at your institution. There’s a reason Dale Carnegie still reigns. These confidence-boosting courses can accelerate your success by leaps and bounds.
Even if the words aren’t being said out loud, there are multiple audiences waiting to “hear your pitch.” Be ready.