Guest blog by Andrew Thomas: Is there a difference between – winning and not losing a pitch?
Yes it’s a rhetorical question. I don’t expect an answer. You may think I don’t deserve one because both options are the same outcome, just expressed differently.
But are they?
I would argue that they are not when it comes to winning new business. Why? Let’s look at a sporting analogy. I know it’s early to be thinking about Wimbledon but consider this. What does Andy Murray have to do to win the championship? Obvious isn’t it – not lose in the first six rounds. So to win, you have to avoid losing first.
And this is equally true when we think about winning new business. It’s a truism to think that winning fixates us all and finding out what that “formula” will guarantee our success. The reality is there is no formula. Every pitch is different and the issue each client faces unique to them. Get close to the prospective client and you may get to understand it – if they reveal it as part of the briefing process – and might resolve it better than any of the other competing agencies.
Notice I used the words “may” and “might”. No guarantees then.
I would argue there is only one way to guarantee winning pitches and that’s by making sure you don’t lose. By that I mean snatching defeat from the jaws of victory or chucking it all away with moments to go. This is very easily done and I keep seeing agencies doing time and again. Great ideas coming from a sound logical argument based on real customer insight. A well-rehearsed presentation delivered impeccably. Then the wheels come off.
Sloppy brand representation, getting the client's name spelt incorrectly – Sara not Sarah, or Steven not Stephen – or referring to the Marketing Director as the Marketing Manager. All can turn a client off in an instant.
The truth is you cannot win a pitch until you make sure you have eliminated everything that could lose it for you. So impeccable attention to detail is critical. Will that mean you will win? Not necessarily but it will mean you get to the final and have the chance of winning. Then it’s up to you and the relationship you can forge with the prospect. How you set about developing better rapport and chemistry with the client team.
But that’s another story for another day…
What experiences do you have of being involved in pitches, from either side of the fence, that lost out due to lack of the basics, such as attention to detail? It would be great to hear your stories.