It’s their decision to jump, not yours

“You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink” – English Proverb

Not that you should see your listener or customer as a horse, but that’s largely true of every pitch, presentation or sale.

Whether you’re trying to sell something, change minds or start revolutions, you’re just the messenger for your message.  The hero of your story is not you, your product or your company. It’s the audience listening to your presentation.  The best you can do is take them to the edge.  Ultimately it’s their decision to jump.

It's always their decision, not yours.

So let’s play with this for a second.

You know on the other side of the chasm is a huge bag of money.  In fact, it’s so massive, you’re going to need your buddy’s help to lift it home.  Problem is, your buddy is at home watching American Idol and eating a Double-Down.  In other words, he’s not likely to move.  So how do you get his attention away from the TV, put down his sandwich, drive to the chasm, and agree to jump over the chasm to help you?

You break down the main goal into discreet goals.

1.  Get his attention away from the TV.  You need to make him aware that there is something better than watching William Hung sing ‘She Bangs’.

2.  Get him to put down his sandwich.  Or do you have to?  Is it the sandwich that’s keeping him planted to the couch or is it the TV?  Can he finish his sandwich first?

3.  Drive to the chasm .  This is the hardest part.  For this to happen, he has to shut off the TV, get off the couch, get in the car and drive out there.

4.  Jump over the chasm.  This is the leap of faith.  He sees the bag but he hasn’t seen the money inside yet.  He has to trust you.

This is the pitch process.  Although I think this blog is the first on the planet to incorporate the Double-Down into a sales example.

Is this considered a sandwich?


In order to know where to focus your attention and emphasis, you need to know as much as you can about your listener.

1.  Getting his attention away from the TV = The main message.  This is the alternative to his existing world.  This is the reason why you’re presenting.  This is the “Why it matters and Why he benefits” part.  This is the first thing you say.  How happy is he with his current state?  You need to know.

2.  Let him eat his sandwich = He still gets to enjoy what he is currently enjoying plus more (your solution).  He doesn’t have to give up everything to adopt your solution.  But what does he have to give up?  Does he have to give it all up?  How does your solution fit into his current situation?  You need to know.

3.  Drive to the chasm = What he needs to do to get to the benefit.  This is where you provide instructions for him to see the benefit. (Call to get a free sample, try it with a money back guarantee, 4-easy payments, etc).  How difficult is this going be? How much proof does he need to see at this stage?  You need to know.

4. Jump over the chasm = He buys it.

Most pitches, either for sales or fund raising fail because the person pitching simply doesn’t know his listener well enough.  They assume that their product is the best alternative to everything else out there and they pitch like they exist in a vacuum.  No product or service can make this claim.  Just as there is Iphone, there’s Android.  Just as there is Sony, there is LG.

This is the same process for job interviews, selling life insurance or raising money.

You need to know your goal.  But you need to know the guy who can grant you your goal even more.