Monday, July 22, 2013

An example of a good pitch

Persuading someone is often finding what they want, and showing how what you want gets them that. 

Here's an example from The West Wing.  Josh Lyman just assumes  Charlie Young will see the benefit of this great job.

Josh: "I'm suppose to vet you,"

Charlie: "I - I beg your pardon?"

Josh: " Vet you. I'm suppose to vet you --- investigate to discover if there are problems. I'm Josh Lyman, Deputy Chief of Staff."

Charlie: "How are you?"

Josh: " Is it - uh - Charles?"

Charlie: "Charlie."

Josh: "Charlie, you can have a seat if you like."

Charlie: "I don't mind standing."

Josh: ". . . So, have a seat. I'm sure you understand why we have to go through this. It's a very sensitive job. It's also a very hard job. 20 hour days aren't uncommon. Long trips at the last minute. A lot of wait and hurry up. Moreover, there will be times when you will have to make yourself invisible in plain sight, as well as an undeniable force in front of those who want more time than we want to give. Sometimes the people I'm talking about will be Kings and Prime Ministers. You understand so far?"

Charlie: "Uh, Sir, I'm sorry but I think there's been some kind of mistake."

Josh: "Really."

Charlie: "See, I came here --- I filled out an application ---"

Josh: "Yeah I have your paperwork."

Charlie: "Right. I came here --- I was looking for a job as a messenger."

Josh: "Yes."

Charlie:  "And I had an interview with Ms DiLaguardia and she told me to wait."

Josh: "Yes."

Charlie: "And then she told me to come here."

Josh: "Yes, that's because we asked Ms DiLaguardia to keep an eye out. She's recommending you for a different job."

Charlie: "Sir, if you don't mind me asking ---"

Josh: "Personal Aide to the President. You don't call me 'Sir'."

Charlie: "I don't understand."

Josh: "Personal Aide to the President. Traditionally a young guy. 20, 25 years old, excels academically, strong on personal responsibility and discretion, presentable appearance."

Charlie: "But, Sir ---"

Josh: "We obviously get quite a few candidates who meet those qualifications, so the rest is just gut instinct. Or you could bribe me."

Charlie: "Sir, I, uh --- "

Josh: "Seriously, Charlie, we call the President 'Sir' everybody else is 'Hey, when am I going to get that thing I just asked for?' . . . ."

Charlie: "There's been a mistake. . . . I should go."

Josh: ". . . . Charlie, you're standing again."

Charlie: "Well, see I came here for a messenger job."

Josh: "Why aren't you in college? . . . These transcripts. Your grades are better than mine. . . . Well, not really, but they're close."

Charlie: "It was an easy school."

Josh: "No come on, I'm looking at recommendations from guidance counselors. I'm looking at A.C.T. scores. You didn't want to go to college?"

Charlie: "Well, I - I have a little sister at home." 

Josh: "You take care of her?"

Charlie: "Yes, Sir."

Josh: "Your parents are gone?"

Charlie: "My mom. She's a police officer. She was shot and killed on duty a few months ago. --- Five months ago."

(scene break)

Josh: "Charlie, I've got some questions for you here from the Counsel's office as well as the Department of the Treasury and the Office of Internal Security. These questions are just routine, there's no cause for concern. Ready?"

Charlie:  "Mr. Lyman ---"

Josh: ". . . .Have you ever tried to overthrow the government?"

Charlie: "Is it because the messenger job is not available anymore? Because maybe if I came back at a different time."

Josh: "Charlie this job actually better than the messenger job. You don't have to ride around town on a bicycle. . . . Hey, Sam,"

Josh: "This is Sam Seaborn, Deputy Communications Director. This is Charlie Young. He's here for Ted's job."

Sam: "Nice to meet you. Don't get up,"

Charlie: "Um, I was here for the messenger job."

Sam: "Debby's got an eye for personnel,"

But now, here's how the deal actually gets closed:

Notice how Jed Bartlett focuses on what Charlie wants, and asks him to take the job so he (Charlie) can get something he cares about....something he had no idea he could actually be part of.

That's persuasion.

 That's a good pitch.

This isn't applicable to query letters so much as it is to asking agents to do things for you: write guest posts on your blog, judge contests, appear at conferences.  People who get me to do what they want often show me how it gets me what I want. (There's a previous blog post about this as well)


french sojourn said...

Very powerful, the timing and flow and how the dialogue is interwoven started with good writing, and illustrates your point well.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Ha...I wasn't paying attention and posted this on the "previous blog post". I really wanted it here.

Magic on a Monday morning is at play...insert Twilight zone theme music here.

Last week, on and off for a dozen times, or more, I have thought of your, “what’s in it for me” post. Every time I searched, something came up, power went out, had to go to work, had to make deadline, something always got in the way. Frustrated I said the hell with it and tried, tried, tried, to remember what you had written.
It was important for me, to get the message because of what I was about to pitch and ask of another person. I had to realize the whole, what’s in it for ‘them’, thing. I think I succeeded.

This morning, I show up at your water park and there it is on your great-white board.
Jeez girl, we may not swim in the same tank but for a minute we were sharing the same sea.

Eric Steinberg said...

Great post and West Wing...for the first four seasons, the best written television show ever. (Recently re-watched it on Netflix).

Anonymous said...

I really appreciate this advice. This (West Wing snippet) was a perfect example of win/win IMHO.

Liz Blocker / @lizblocker said...

I love this show. Love, love, LOVE this show. I wept (no, I really did, sadly) when it was cancelled. I've always thought that Aaron Sorkin is a genius at smart, fast-paced, engaging dialogue - not to mention smart, fast-paced, and very well-developed characters. I'll gladly take advice based on Mr. Sorkin any day.

As always, thank you!

Wanderer said...

Thank you for showing me why I love the show.

A.J. Cattapan said...

Oh , I miss The West Wing! The only show about politics I've ever liked!

LynnRodz said...

Thank you for showing us how it should be done!

Leah said...

I am still mourning the death of Leo McGarry...and the show as a whole. I love it so.