June 20, 2021

How to Win Without Pitching

Everyday, we pitch ourselves and our ideas.

When we converse, we unknowingly pitch for hidden opportunities.

And for the opportunity, we pitch ourselves against an unknown competition.

The next time you find yourself pitching, don’t.

The problem with pitching is one of positioning — we cannot expect to lead an interaction if we’re constantly pitching for acceptance and approval.

“Even when we pitch and win, we lose. We devalue what should be our most valuable offering and set up the wrong dynamics between the client and us.”
— Blair Enns

The Power Dynamic

To understand how this affects you, let’s first focus on the extreme before bringing it back to the middle.

Imagine you’re a seller who’s pitching something to a buyer:

The buyer decides whether he or she approves of your pitch — there’s a power dynamic that puts them in charge.

The buyer compares you against other sellers, forcing you to compete for the sale.

The buyer expects you to give up valuable information in the pitch, stringing you on with no guarantee of purchase.

The seller loses in many ways the minute they start pitching. Even if they win the sale, they’ve subjugated themselves to the buyer’s rules and conditions.

The Alternative

There’s an alternative way of doing things — Instead of pitching, we should be conversing.

“Practitioners do not present. Stars do not audition.”
 —  Blair Enns

Conversing can disassemble the power dynamic that works in favour of the buyer.

If our expertise is truly what is sought by the buyer or client, we should be leading the conversation.

Conversations reduce buying resistance and rightly empower the expert.

“Presenting is a tool of swaying, while conversing is a tool of weighing. Through the former we try to convince people to hire us. Through the latter we try to determine if both parties would be well served by working together.”
— Blair Enns


  1. Position yourself with expertise, so that you don’t need to pitch.
  2. Instead of pitching, converse.

“If we are pomegranates then we will resist being pushed into a process designed to compare apples to apples.”
— Blair Enns

This article was inspired by “The Win Without Pitching Manifesto” by Blair Enns.

For more on Positioning, read “Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind” by Al Ries and Jack Trout.

If you still need to Pitch, I highly recommend reading “Pitch Anything: An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading, and Winning the Deal” by Oren Klaff.

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