The tough pitch

Yesterday I went to see a TV company, to catch up with what they’re doing and hopefully sell them a series idea.

When I got there, I realised I’d met the head of development before and she was hard work.  Normally I can get a producer to agree to consider five or six possible projects, but she shot down in flames every last thing I pitched to her.  It was all perfectly friendly, but I came back to the office really discouraged.

Of course, agents grow a thick skin over time (maybe that should be ‘hide’ or even ‘scales’), so I bounced back after blowing off a bit of steam with my colleagues.  But it got me thinking about tough pitching sessions.

As with any selling, smiling, manners and professionalism are givens.  You try and work out what they think they need, and what do you think they need.  Sometimes the most successful sale is something unexpected and delightful.

Maybe she’s incredibly focused on getting exactly what she thinks she wants.

Maybe she only likes to find things for herself, and it’s irritating to have someone else suggesting ideas.

Maybe she doesn’t really need anything right now.

Maybe I just didn’t ‘get’ her, and pitched things in the wrong way.

Maybe she likes to say no first, and re-consider later on.

Maybe she feels safer buying something that someone else wants too.

One of my favourite-ever short stories is Through Other Eyes by R A Lafferty.  It’s about a team of scientists who invent a machine that lets you experience the world through someone else’s eyes.  They’re all shocked by how different it looks to their own experience.  I often wish I had that machine.  I guess fiction and drama are as close as we can get right now.

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