The Heart of the Onion
I often find myself using a metaphor involving an onion – such as “let’s peel away another layer”. The onion is is a metaphor for what a business has to sell. Only by peeling its many layers, can one reveal whether it has a sweet heart or a rotten core.
When most business people I meet pitch themselves, they describe the sequentially removable layers, concealing the most important elements of their argument. Prospects are left cold, being forced to spend their time working their way through the layers of the onion. The prospects minds become buried beneath a series of issues or arguments never seeing the central concept. Even if there is a sweet heart, it’s impossible to find.
The human mind sees objects in their entirety rather than perceiving the individual parts. You don’t read the letters in each word, instead you understand their combined meaning. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts in the mind.
It’s the same with a pitch. The prospect sees what you tell them at the beginning rather than understanding the building blocks of pitch. If you expect them to peel away the layers of the onion, they’ll get lost in their own thoughts rather than absorb and be engaged in what you want them to hear.
The key is to isolate the primary message. When we get to the core of the argument we expose what we want the audience to hear. We have the opportunity to create empathy and engage the audience.
The mind is essentially lazy and will take a short cut so that it can be in a resting state. Take advantage of this. Presenting the whole onion and expecting the audience to dissect it means, at the best they will think that engaging you will be hard work, at worst they’ll miss the core argument altogether.
Instead do the mental gymnastics for the audience. Control their minds in the direction you want them to go. Do this by using the core of the onion; the primary message must becomes a continuing narrative. Each point will re-enforce core argument at the heart of the onion. The prospect will think It’s easy to work with you and understand the benefits you products or services will bring.
The onion’s layers can then be built (or grown). The prospect will become a customer and the pitch won.