Monday, May 7, 2012

The Rabbit & the Pitch

Last week during my morning walk I happened upon an unusual, but exciting sight. A group of people were handing out free bagels and coffee. Needless to say, they were very popular with the passerby. I don't drink coffee and I don't eat bagels. Also, I am apparently crazy for not doing so. That's fine, I own it, but in this case, my "no thank you," when I was offered something everyone was saying yes to, created an incredible moment.

The group handing out free coffee and bagels was a friendly new start up called Task Rabbit. Task Rabbit is a service that provides a helpful, skilled and also safe (all their task rabbits receive full background checks) person to take on your tasks. Whether you need help with grocery shopping, someone to pick up printer ink, or help putting together that new desk from IKEA, Task Rabbit has you covered.

I had heard of Task Rabbit, as NPR did a nice piece on start ups a few months ago that included a representative from the company. I mention this, because it makes what happened next even more extraordinary. As I was walking toward the crowd, I was approached by one of the Task Rabbit folks. "Can I offer you some coffee and a bagel?" Now to be offered anything as the Mother of a toddler is enough to make me break down and cry with gratitude, not to mention my daughter was starting to fuss in the stroller already. It had been three blocks. When I smiled and said, "No thanks," that's when Task Rabbit floored me with a smooth and sensational pitch! Seriously. I have been thinking about how brilliant this was for DAYS!

Instead of being thrown by my polite refusal, the gentleman continued to approach me asking, "Do you know Task Rabbit?" "Yes," I said. Refusal #2. I was not giving this guy an in at all. When I said yes, he smiled and proceeded with a super concise pitch that somehow was directly relevant to me. We talked about my business, Zelma Rose, and how I often needed things like ink or shipping supplies and how running out for even the shortest errand always took twice as long with a toddler in tow. He gave me a few clear examples of how Task Rabbit could help, including making post office runs, picking up supplies, and helping with tasks related on my online shopping sites. He then handed me two coupon cards one for me and one for my business. Amazing. He had me hooked, and after I had already refused. Twice. The truly incredible part was that I was not annoyed.

Source: via Lisa on Pinterest

This has baffled me for the past few days. I usually avoid people giving things away on the street like the plague. And I have no problem saying no, politely or rude as hell, so why did I engage with Task Rabbit? What was it specifically about the pitch? I will be thinking about this for a long time, but for now, here's what I've got:
  • The Art of Not Being Thrown
This is so very difficult to master. It really takes practice and a certain ability to fake it until you make it. Task Rabbit Dude was clearly comfortable approaching people. So much so, that when I gave him 2 good reasons to stop his pitch, he was able to master some mental exercises and create some info that might pertain directly to me.
  • Know Your Product & Your Audience
This might go without saying, but Task Rabbit Dude knew all about his product and who he was pitching to that morning. So well, that the quick metal exercises necessary to not be thrown by my answers, he was able to come up with something that might be meaningful to me. Not too surprising that pitching a product in a baby crazed neighborhood, people might be concerned about the skill level and safety of Task Rabbit's staff. Not a hard guess, but Task Rabbit Dude did his homework and had the info ready to go.
  • Believe in Your Product & It's Success
There was no stench of desperation. Not a bit. Task Rabbit Dude was so grounded in his belief in the product that there was no pressure on the conversation at all. If I didn't bite, someone else would because what he had to offer was kick ass!

I'll be posting more about this for sure. I'm not done thinking about it and I would love to really nail what was special about my interactions with Task Rabbit that morning, so we can all apply it to our own pitch.

What are your thoughts?

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