Home » Archive » Pitching, flipping, and pinging – forgotten principles

, written by Jeremy. Read the commentary.

At a recent meeting I watched five of six major players in a major decision take tiny, incremental steps toward an outcome they had completely opposed when entering the room. The experience got me talking about the importance of flipping. I thought I’d come up with an important principle … one worth writing about …

Turns out I already did. Or rather, Seth did:

Retro post #197.

Not too long ago I wrote a series of posts on pitching. It was mostly for my own sake that I put those pieces together — I wanted to better understand what pitching actually meant and where it was best used.

After doing all that work and looking critically at the process, I decided not to build a pitch — at least not one for getting clients. Instead I put together a short bit on what sift is, what I do, and why I think it’s interesting work.

I felt that pitching tasted too used car and not enough like the sophisticated dilettante I want to grow up to be. And since then I’ve panned around for a clearer expression of what I believe works. Yesterday’s post by Seth Godin comes close.

Seth explained how important small, initial wins are in the process of persuasion. Gunning for an initial big win is unrealistic, particularly if your intended audience isn’t interested in being persuaded. He suggested that the hopeful persuader should look for open-minded invitations from the persuadee (these can be unconscious or intentional — like thumbing through an innovation-oriented business magazine or subscribing to a change-agent’s email list). Instead of seeking a single, big win pursue a series of small changes. Seth called this flipping.

I just watched the interviews of the Oscar winning cast of “Million Dollar Baby”. In it Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, and Hillary Swank each said that listening is the most important part of acting. Listening determines your action — it’s the core of improv — that mysterious definer of great versus flat acting.

A great actor, like Morgan Freeman, persuades us that he understands and lives in that moment. For those minutes on the screen he is that character. As in acting, so in persuasion. While pitching or flipping we hope to become the answer, the solution, or the next step — to step inside and manifest what we hope to sell.

Know what a ping is? Here, give it a shot: Open a MS-DOS prompt and type “ping www.siftstar.com”. You’ll get a read out of what was sent to sift, what sift received, and how long it all took to happen.

Pinging is a protocol checking if another computer on a network is reachable. You send off a ping, the other computer bounces back a message that lets you know it hears you.


To pitching and flipping I would add: pinging.

In the game of pitching and flipping, pinging is important. Pinging is the listening part of persuasion and provides those bits of information needed to understand the persuadee. Pinging drives the improv that makes us real-time instead of scripted … dilettante instead of used car.

And pinging endures. I can pitch and you can ignore it. I can flip and you can flip back. But when I ping, I learn something that is mine to keep. I learn what makes you tick, what burns you up, what makes you sing — I can be more persuasive now than before. These are mine to take home and use again.

I’ve learned and gained more from pinging than I ever have from pitching. And I’ve made more clients from plain interest and curiosity than I ever have from savvy flipping.

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