One of the things I most enjoy about my job is being asked to help a client work up an important pitch. Very often the impending pitch is to an existing client who has somehow now decided to put the work out to competitive tender rather than simply roll it over and renew the previous contract. Ouch! How could they do that!
On nearly every occasion, I can bet the farm that the ‘great pitch’ they have written will invariably lead with the excellent work they have done for the client over previous years. The relationship has been great, the level of service has been excellent, and the results have been right on the money each time. So surely this is just a beauty parade, and they’re bound to award the work back to us again, aren’t they?
Unfortunately, the reality is exactly the opposite, and just like The Trump, when it comes to the future, the past relationship is going count for very little. This is particularly true if a new CEO is in the chair. Indeed, rather like that wonderful phrase used by the financial services sector, ‘past results are no guarantee of future performance’, so it is with the approach to a competitive pitch.
Don’t View the Relationship Through the Rear View Mirror.
When trying to identify your key messages you must look to the future, not rest on the laurels of your past. Prospective clients will give little weight to your history together. What they are looking for is your ideas and plans for the future. Precisely how are you going to help them meet the challenges that lay ahead? What is your perception of where their market is going and what are you going to deliver that will help them position themselves to be at the sharp end of the business? How is your specific product or service going to make a difference?
Unless you structure your pitch to look forward with the client’s needs front and centre - and identify your clear differential, you are not going to win. To have any chance of success you must identify your key message up front, (one that’s going to benefit the client) then justify why your particular organization is best positioned to deliver on that. Then your need to provide some strong evidence to support that.
Meaningless waffle about you, your own business and the wonderful times, the corporate golf days, concert tickets ect, that you and the client had previously enjoyed together just won’t cut it. Leave that approach to your competitors (they will lose).
Rather like Trump’s attitude to forging international relationships, he has no time for the ‘we’ve always done it that way’ approach. Maybe it’s infectious, because your clients don’t either.