The secret to winning pitches
To win new business pitches, having great ideas that solve client problems is not enough. We also have to beat our competitors. Here’s how.
It’s easy to get absorbed in solving client problems when working on a pitch. The client wants a strategy and ideas which will deliver certain results. That’s our focus and has to be nailed, absolutely.
But to ensure a world class ‘win’ hit rate, developing great strategies and ideas for the client is not enough. Sometimes competitors beat us not because they are better than us, but because they beat us.
To win more often, put just as much energy into developing YOUR AGENCY’S STRATEGY to win… your strategy to beating your competition.
Here are the top five tips to beating your competitors when you pitch:
- Know the decision making criteria: find out exactly what criteria the client will use to make its decision. What are the ‘must haves’ to be successful? Find out by asking them. If they won’t tell you, probe through the briefing phase and make your own assessment.
- Know the decision making process: understand exactly what the client’s decision making process will be. What steps will they go through? Who will make the final decision? Based on whose recommendation? Who has the power to say ‘yes’. Who has the power to say ‘no’.
- Have a relationship strategy: build chemistry and credibility before the pitch. Carefully work out who in your agency will make what contact with which client executive, and when. What value or insight will they deliver during that contact? Often making no special contact is the way to go. At other times, it’s vital and right. If the final decision maker is not a big part of the pitch process, ensure when they hear your name as the potential agency, the reaction is: “Oh good I know, like and respect that firm.”
- Study the competition: who are you pitching against? What will they bring that you won’t? What do you have that they don’t? How can you gently undermine their offer during the pitch process while boosting the pillars of yours? Pitching is war. Play fair but play hard.
- Get very personal in the pitch: you want each client executive during the pitch to feel a powerful moment of “Aha! They have nailed perfectly my needs. Excellent.” For example, the Marketing Director wants to deliver sales and impress her boss. The CEO wants a rising share price and impressed analyst community. The Finance Director wants to see ‘skin in the game’ with some of our fee at risk, based on results. The New Zealand Country Manager wants an outstanding result on the South Island, where sales are lagging, etc. Make sure you give each of them their personal ‘AHA!’ moment.
So have great strategies to solve the clients problem, but also develop YOUR STRATEGY TO WIN. Make a habit of beating your competitors, especially if they are better than you! It’s the best fun in business!