Dear James: What three qualities do you look for in a person (not the service or product) meeting you to deliver a sales pitch? I'm in recruitment and I am conscious about what others are reading when they meet me. - Harry James says: I started my career over 30 years ago in recruitment and one thing has not changed – it is still a people business. You are selling yourself as much as anything and this applies to sales pitches in any industry or sector. The three key qualities I look for are passion, preparation and presentation If you can show real passion for what you are pitching and confidence in what you are saying, I am more likely to do business with you. This is by far the most important quality I look for. You can have the greatest product or service in the world, but it means absolutely nothing if you don’t sound like you believe in it. Presentation and ability to engage are also extremely important. I get an immediate perception of someone when they walk through the door. If my initial impression of you is not good, then I’m afraid it’s going to be even more difficult for you to impress me. Everything about you is a shop window – how you look, speak, carry yourself – right down to your handshake. If you are wearing a black suit with white socks, that automatically puts a mark against you. It might sound silly, but something like that shows you don’t pay attention to small details. Finally, demonstrate how committed you are with preparation and knowledge of who you are pitching to. If I feel like I am hearing the same old things that you have said to other companies, I won’t give you a second thought. Nowadays, you can find all sorts of specific information on the people and firms you are pitching to, so there’s no excuse for being unprepared. You can add so much value to your pitch simply by striking up a conversation with someone you are pitching to, and discussing their background. Not only will this show them you have done your research, but it stops them from constantly firing questions at you, making the process less one-sided. I find one of the best ways to pitch is to think of yourself as telling a story. Focus on a problem and then tell me how you can solve the issue better than anybody else.