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How to Win at Pitching
One of the key challenges of agency life is pitching.
Whatever type of agency you run the chances are good at some point you’ll be involved in a pitch. Some you’ll win and some you’ll lose. Hopefully, you’ll win more than you lose. But my guess is for many it’s the other way around.
Let me know if you can relate to this:
You unearth an opportunity to pitch for a large brand. Someone respected, a blue-chip. The project is big, and it’s right in your wheelhouse; it could really make your agency and finally give you the platform to grow.
You might even be able to hire that Client Services Director you’ve been thinking about for what seems like forever.
The pitch date is on Monday in four weeks so you don’t have a lot of time to prepare. At least you know the competition as there’s only one other agency in the running. Given those odds, it’s OK you won’t get to meet the decision-maker before you pitch. It also doesn’t matter the budget is a bit vague too.
You decide to go for it, despite the fact you’re busy with current clients. It’ll be over in a month, and you can juggle pretty well anyway.
You spend the next four weeks pouring your heart into building the most fantastic pitch deck. You call in every favour going from your partners, update your case studies so they align perfectly to your story and spend the weekend before the pitch refining and practising.
You miss your partner’s birthday celebration in doing so, but it’ll be worth it, and you can make it up with flowers/dinner/jewellery*.
* delete as appropriate
The pitch day arrives, and you nail it.
Your team delivers a seamless presentation, and you answer every question without stumbling. The client gives you great feedback too.
On the train, on your way back to the office, you’re already thinking about resourcing and celebrating too of course.
Then, a week later, boom. You hear the news. You didn’t win. Wow. WTF! Why? How?!
You start speculating. The other agency must have been embedded with the decision-maker already. You know, the marketing director who wouldn’t meet you before the pitch.
You start to think you’d been used for a price check because obviously your idea and campaign plan was fucking brilliant. Surely your slick, well-rehearsed presentation was first class too.
You decide to ask for feedback, but the blue-chip has already moved on with the other agency and frankly, couldn’t give a toss about you. Well, that’s how you feel when you get a one-liner email, thanking you for your pitch but without any concrete or useful advice.
And just like that, you’ve lost a month of your time.
Your team is fuming about missing out on the blue-chip client. Let’s face it you’d bigged the opportunity up to get them excited and happy to put the extra hours in this month.
You have to pick up the morale and get everyone refocussed on their clients. Don’t forget about making it up to your partner too. It looks like it’s going to be flowers rather than jewellery since you don’t have the extra profit to spend now.
This pretty much happened to me a couple of years ago when I pitched with a partner agency for a large tech brand.
It was an expensive mistake. I decided I had to get some help with pitching or decide not to pitch for work again. Which, frankly, is not an option for agencies. It was too expensive in every way to do over and over again.
If this sounds like you then I have some good news.
I’ve teamed up with Anthony ‘Tas’ Tasgal to create a one-day training course on how to win at pitching.
Click on this link and find out how to win more business for your agency.
Spend a day with Tas and me and learn how to smash your next pitch out of the park with the BESTIE approach… we’ll be looking at using behavioural economics, storytelling, insight and pitch doctoring to ramp up your success rates.
Imagine if the next time you pitch for that blue-chip the phone call goes more like this:
Thanks for pitching, we loved your approach and your creative concepts were excellent. We’d really like to appoint your agency for this project…
Now that’s what I’m talking about!