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Author of Pitch Anything, Managing Director at Intersection Capital
I’m an avid reader. Actually, I’m lying. I’m an avid audio-book listener. I’m a full blown Audible.com addict. I consume anywhere from 25-35 books a year while I’m driving to and from the office. I love spending my driving time this way. I feel productive and I get amazing ideas for my business. I feel as if I earn a master’s degree every 6 months due to my dedication to learning through audio files. The habit keeps me sharp. I’ve credited some of my books to saving my sanity and at times saving my business. About a year ago I listened to Oren Klaff’s book Pitch Anything. Afterward, I did something that I don’t do. I listened to it again. Then I listened to it again. I passed it on to my CMO. I recommended it to anyone who would listen. I wrote a blog post about it. Finally, I began implementing it’s principles. My business began growing beyond anything I could have imagined. Recently, I connected with Oren Klaff on Twitter. Last week – Oren chatted with me about success. We even discussed writing a book together. During our chat – we covered everything from Millennials to the Matrix. Please keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle at all times. Buckle up, and come along for a ride …on the Oren side. Please welcome Oren Klaff for Success interview number five.
Chris Dessi: In your biography it states you raised close to half a billion dollars. You don’t need the money. Why write the book Pitch Anything?
Oren Klaff: For fame and fortune! The time I wrote the book (2009 early 2010) – the deal business was dead. There was nothing to do but watch time go by, and then somebody saw me speak. They said – you should do a radio show with Howard Stern. I didn’t like radio because you’re talking to jobless losers at 3pm in the afternoon. Then someone said – how about do a book? What else is there to do when there is nothing going on? It’s been fun.
Chris Dessi: The tactics that your teaching and using they can be pretty intense. Are you concerned that some people will crash and burn if they’re mishandling the techniques your teaching?
Oren Klaff: Have you watched the show Pros vs. Joes? You have these weekend athletes, ridiculously in shape, like 2% body fat, ex marines. They put them on a playing field with ex pro athletes. You get to see the difference between the guy that’s just super in shape and a pro. The thing is – the pros completely manhandled these guys. Completely overwhelming them. If you look at the best amateur athlete out of context you think, “hey this guys looks like he could play pro ball.” Then you look in context with a pro player and he looks silly, those guys just destroy them.
Nothin in the book works without first getting the experience of pushing on people a little bit and creating a some tension. You have to take it easy though. There are a lot of things to do before you can get aggressive with people. So, yes, I do see people taking it out of context, but for the most part people take it seriously, they don’t get over their skies. We get dozens of emails a day saying, “the book changed my life. I took it slow, I implemented the stuff, now I’m I’m a monster and I’m killing. Nobody stands in my way and I have you to thank for it”
Chris Dessi: Right – they skip steps. In the book you touch on it but you don’t go to those steps. Is that why you have the webinars? Or is there a followup book in the works – with tactical steps?
Oren Klaff: No, no. So here’s the thing: the book is my vision. It’s like that scene in The Matrix with the key maker – you open one door and it’s an ice landscape. Close it and open it again, and it’s like a summer spring mountain Germany castle view. Close it and open it again, and it’s an interstellar night sky. The job of the book is to let you know that there’s a matrix out there. That the world as you know it is not fixed and full of boundaries in the way that you think it is. You can say things and do things, and there are ways to change people’s behaviors that you never thought was were possible.
Before, you could say, (meekly) “Hey, thank you so much for having me here at your business; I’m so excited to present you our material today. I hope you choose us as your vendor and if you do I’ll work extra hard and the customers are always right and we’ll bend over backwards to make you happy. Here’s my pager number, here’s my cell phone, here’s my fax machine. I’ll always be available all week and just choose us and we will do whatever it takes to make you happy.”
That’s sort of how people believe you should behave in front to of a buyer. So, if you open this door to the matrix and believe that, (confidently) “Hey guys, can you get the boss in here cause it’s time to roll. I’m super busy and I have to get somewhere else in an hour from now. We have a lot to cover; grab your guys, I have my guys, lets roll. I got an agenda. Let’s go through it,” is the only thing you can say.
Chris Dessi: Cool. So you mentioned something that I liked. That the book may be more about self mastery. What is your personal rhythm? Do you meditate? Do you visualize?
Oren Klaff: Yeah, really good question. You do not want to take my path at being great. I had to use trial and error and lose a lot of deals and do a lot of suffering because I didn’t know what was possible. I had to try to get to what was possible. So it took many many years, it was slow. The reality is, I was a computer programmer. Both my parents are academics. My dad is statistician. He is not a boxer. I did not play on the high school football team. Girls didn’t like me in high school. I didn’t drive a Camaro. I was a nerd. Over time, I realized that’s not a good state to be in. Where your supplicating, having to ask people for things, having them say no and you going “ok.” That’s horrible. So slowly, I got on the path of improving and it was far too slow.
The job of Pitch Anything is to accelerate that. But I started out where everybody else starts – in suckville. And Chris I see a lot of people say I’m gonna get out of loserville population “me” through manipulation. I talked to a guy yesterday. They have a pretty good sales organization. They ran me through their pitch. Everything is so Robert Cialdini. It’s so clearly manipulative. I mean the great thing about pitching is that it’s fun! That is my motivation. I am always having fun! Around me is a hemisphere of fun. If you step into my hemisphere, say, within 20 feet of me and I stop having fun. You need to get the fuck out. Okay? That’s my rule, I’m having fun!
Chris Dessi: When you’re having fun have you ever had somebody get offended?
Oren Klaff: If you have that rule you have to accept lies. This is the problem with salespeople. Because they can’t accept that it may not be a good fit. You have to say it’s just not a good account. I don’t want it. Yes, I’d make my numbers, yes, I’d make my commission, yes, I’d be able to buy the car I want to get or whatever. But It’s not a good account. I’m not gonna have fun! They don’t want me to make margin, they’re not gonna be easy to work with, and there are better ways to live.
Now you’re free, you don’t give a fuck.
You say, (confidently) “There’s nobody that knows more about ball bearings and spinning Kevlar and metallurgy and tractor-trailer parts and how to ship pack and install them. Nobody knows that stuff better than me and really like it or hate it. I’m in demand people want my time because I’m the best at this. So I have to be picky in who I work with.”
Chris Dessi: So it’s really about the ability to have tolerance that you may lose the deal. Because if they’re offended – then they just weren’t the right people to be working with. Is that true?
Oren Klaff: Yeah, that’s right. If they get offended it means they don’t have the money. Now, we’re in a sophisticated step, this is the moral authority print. When you paint yourself right down the middle and you paint the other guy as unusual then two things can happen.
1. They were never a buyer in the first place, they’re just pricing you out.
2. They try to come back to the center where you are.
Nobody wants to be painted as weird cute unusual and outside the norm in their behavior. So yea these are the controls for sure. I was listening to a song during CrossFit. The lyrics are, “I don’t give a fuck because I’m dangerous, I don’t have any more cocaine to take so I’m dangerous. I ran out of beer so I’m dangerous. I don’t have a car so I’m a guys who don’t care are free and dangerous.”
That’s you if you don’t care. If you believe the buyer has control over you and can make you happy by awarding you a contract then you are in a vulnerable position. Now, I’m not saying walk in and don’t give a fuck. I’m saying walk in and care. Care about the right things. Care about the fact that you are happy, that you’re having fun! That you’re allowed to give the buyer a good product, make a margin and have him be successful with it. That the relationship works for both sides. That’s what you care about, that’s centrist, that’s right in the middle, that’s plain manila envelope what everybody wants and that is what’s fair. If the buyer wants something that’s not fair then you should start to back away.
- The greater pitch creates a big funnel.
- A big funnel reduces your neediness.
- The reduction of neediness makes it more likely that the buyer will come in on your terms.
If you read the book I lay out for you in very clear simple terms how you can get it and start using it.
Chris Dessi: Two minutes left and I want to get to how do you define success. But before that you mentioned CrossFit. Do you exercise ? If so what do you do to keep fit?
Oren Klaff: I work out at the navy seal training center Seal Fit here in southern California. It’s a very rigorous program that keeps you pretty busy. I’m not gonna get into life balance but if you don’t have life balance it’s very difficult to feel like you’ve got control of the center. I have 20 motorcycles and I have cars … the truth is, once you get it, it’s nice but you don’t need it. What you need, (and this is my definition of success), is to do your work, step away, look back on it, be proud of it, and then go get your other stuff.
The reason you need those things is because you have a center. And it’s okay to get off center. It’s okay to go off on warped benders. It’s okay to get beside yourself and test new territories. But if you don’t know where your center is you don’t know where to come back to. If you look at these celebrities that have done plastic surgery. Like Lindsay Lohan. Because as much as you wanna love her she, doesn’t have a center to come back to. She’s doing plastic surgery or she’s doing behavior and that’s her new center but the next one doesn’t seem that far off. And that’s where people you know get way off.
Why isn’t that person looking in a mirror? Yeah, they have a mirror, they just don’t have a center.
Your center is:
1. Something you like doing
2. Something you have passion about
3. Someone you love.
You can always come to that and calibrate yourself. Hopefully that was helpful. I know for some millennials they say “I wanna make money. I want a Ferrari. I want a house on Manhattan beach. I want a jet.” Those are good ideals. I respect the consumerism and the wanting to make money, but at some point I also have to have a center because I’ll just add most of that stuff is luck.
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Hey there thanks for reading! My name is Chris Dessi. I’m the founder and CEO of Silverback Social. I’m also the founder of the Westchester Digital Summit, and the author of Your World is Exploding: How Social Media is Changing Everything and How You Need to Change With It.
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