Pitch Perfect – You Had Me At Hello?
You’re facing a potential client and need to make the best impression. How do you put your message across in a way that differentiates you from the crowd? Winning pitches and developing new business is essential to the success of many organizations. But more often than not, the process is rushed, the participants are unprepared and the outcome is unsatisfactory. It’s not the best companies that are the most successful, it’s the best sold. The difference between winning and losing a pitch is often marginal, with hours of your time and large amounts of money spent.
Pitching for new business can be tough, especially if you are up against direct competition. Potential investors and customers don’t have time for lengthy presentations – they want to know what you’re offering, fast! How do you persuade your target that using your products or services will substantially benefit them and/or their business? Research is the key. Understanding the potential client’s market and working out how your business can help them to achieve their objectives will enable you create the perfect pitch.
As part of any business strategy, pitching for new business also requires humanity, common sense and the ability to look at yourselves from the outside in and ask, “How will this read? How will it feel? How will it resonate?”
What is the secret to successful pitching?
“Every new business pitch should do three things: inform, educate and above all: entertain.” Steve Jobs
- Study the Ins and Outs
When pitching your services or products, you need to fully understand the company you’re meeting with. Study the website inside out, get to know all the key players in the company, e.g. when and how it was founded, check out the social media channels and website for information about vision and mission statements, company culture, press, and any new initiatives posted online. Pick out key pieces of information that you can reference during your presentation or meeting with the client.
- Know Your Client(s)
Once you know which stakeholders will be in the meeting, do your research and homework. Read their bios on the website and browse LinkedIn profiles to see if you can gather other interesting nuggets or potential talking points for your presentation. The more you know about who they are, who they report to, and what their work goals, challenges, and responsibilities are, the better off you’ll be in the meeting with crafting a meaningful pitch that will resonate with your audience.
- Be a Storyteller
Now that you’ve researched the company and key stakeholders, craft a story that is compelling and that aligns with the goals of the company while humanizing you and your efforts. Find commonalities and examples of past experiences whether with client case studies, or personal stories to connect with the team on a personal and professional level. When you leave the pitch, whether on the phone or in person, be sure to leave a lasting impression. A carefully crafted story will take you much further.
- Mark Your Territory
During your presentation, it is highly important to separate yourself from your competition, especially in the eyes of your potential client as far as the market and available opportunities. Most industries are very competitive, and in these markets and economic times, a niche is vital for success.
- Use the Right Language
Words have more power than you think. By saying ‘Our’ and ‘We’ early on, you’re already subtly including yourself in the client’s team. It’s also very positive language as it shows your confidence while at the same time allows the client to already think of you as the winning agency.
- Listen Up!
Although you’re there to pitch your product and have put hours into the preparation, that doesn’t mean you know everything. Go into the pitch with an open mind and aim to let the client do most of the talking. Take the time to listen and respond with deep, thoughtful follow-up questions. This is critical step to towards understanding their business needs and ultimately closing the deal. If you listen and ask the right questions, you can adjust your message to one that sounds really attractive to your client.
You need to demonstrate why your fee is value for money. The firms that address all the above aspects will emerge from the pack and take market share from their competitors.
Last but not least, show the potential client that you went the extra mile to hand write a note thanking them for their time throughout the pitch process, and that you look forward to hearing from them. By getting away from the cluttered inbox and into an envelope that lands on their desk, you’re showing a different approach in this modern digital age that shows sophistication, class, and commitment to get to know your client on a more personal level.
Posted by Irene Gomez, CIO, Corporate Media