Competitive proposals are often won and lost at pitch/ presentation stage. We’ve seen lots of situations where teams in winning positions ahead of the pitch have subsequently lost. We’ve also worked with teams who’ve come from losing positions to win work based on getting the pitch just right. Here are some of our top tips.
1. Know and meet your audience
If possible, meet with each member of the client panel ahead of the pitch. The dynamic at the pitch will be much stronger if you and your team have already met with everyone on the client’s side of the table.
2. Focus on the most important client issues
From your experience of meeting with the key client contacts, understand what’s important to each of them at an individual level. Prioritise and focus on these key issues. Ruthlessly eliminate any content that isn’t of importance or relevance to the client.
3. Pick the right team
Select the right people to bring to the pitch based on the issues you plan to cover (having agreed them with the client first). Consider who’ll be there from the client side and try to get the right balance from an age, experience, gender, style and content perspective.
4. Get the structure and flow right
Plan the structure of the presentation. Make sure you’ve allocated the right amount of time and focus to each of the key issues. Think about the handovers from section to section and from person to person. Make sure you “sign-post” your presentation along the way…there’s nothing worse than sitting on the other side of the table wondering “where is this going?” or “I wonder if they plan to cover X and Y”.
5. Test your approach with the client
Contact your client ahead of the pitch and test your approach with them. Walk them through the key items you’re planning to cover. Let them know who’ll be attending and why. Get their views and feedback on the plan. Share the value of them doing this.
6. Go easy on the materials
Keep the printed materials or slides to a minimum. The more material you bring to a pitch, the less time the client will spend listening to and engaging with you. Challenge yourselves around whether each piece of material is really necessary. Often a one page placemat is far more impactful and engaging than bringing a slide-deck.
7. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse
Practice makes perfect. No matter how many times anyone has presented before, it’s vital to practice the pitch both individually and as a team multiple times to get it right. Consider running a number of full rehearsal pitches in front of a “client panel”. This panel could be presentation coaches or people who understand the work you’re pitching for and can act as the client.
8. Anticipate and practice questions
Think of the questions you’re likely to get. Think of the questions you don’t want to be asked. Ask members of the team who are not involved in the pitch to come up with a list of questions they’d ask if they were the client. Allocate the question categories to different people on the team. Practice answering the questions as a team.
9. Don’t forget the logistics
Find out and plan the logistics beforehand. What’s the room set up? How many other groups are pitching? What time is allocated to each team? Where are you in the running order? How will you and the team get there and how long will it take? What materials if any will we bring with us?
10. Get feedback afterwards
Don’t wait for the client to make a decision before getting feedback. Call the client later that day or the next day. What parts of the presentation did the client find most helpful? What were the areas we could have covered more effectively or didn’t cover at all? Anything else we can help them with before they make their decision? Ask them what else we need to do to win!
Focusing on your customers at all stages of the pitch process, dramatically increases the probability of a win. Want to win your next pitch? We’d love to hear from you.