What Prospects Get from a Pitch

I once had an interesting conversation with an agency principal about new business presentations. He had just won a big piece of business and, in fact, had been very successful in winning new business over the past few years.

“What’s your secret?” I asked.

“It’s simple,” he responded. “I feel far too many agencies spend too much time concentrating on the specifics while presenting to the client—the strategy, the designs, the media plan, etc. This is only one issue that needs to be resolved at the presentation level. There are other, potentially more important things that need to be addressed between agency and prospect before the presentation can be deemed successful, and the business won.”

In order for an agency presentation to a prospect to be considered successful, there are three issues that must be resolved:

What they saw. 
This, of course, includes the specifics of the presentation: the strategy, the creative concepts, the media plan, etc. It is very important information, but when there are a number of agencies presenting, the actual details of each agency’s presentation can be confusing. Prospects notoriously cannot remember who said what—the actual proposal is a poor tool for differentiating your agency during the competitive pitch process. 

What they experienced. 
This is the zowie, highly memorable thing you do during a presentation that differentiates your agency from the other presenters. For example, in a recent presentation, one of our members opened their portion of the pitch with the simple words, “Ladies and Gentlemen, we are the fine agency team from Action Advertising. Rather than take your time having us tell you who we are and what we do, we would like to allow someone else to do the job for us.” The agency then filed out of the room, lowered the lights and turned on a monitor in the front of the room. The ensuing video was a stunning testimonial about the agency… delivered by their clients. 
After the video, the agency people returned and made their presentation. There is no doubt in my mind that this agency created a difference. The prospects experienced something that transcended what was being presented. And when it was time for the committee to select among a number of agencies, you can be assured our member was memorable. 

What they felt about the people.
Let’s face it: companies do business with people they like. It is very important to make a connection during a presentation to a prospect. Failing to establish that personal rapport can dramatically diminish the chance for success. The value of your strategic presentation, and the memorability of your dramatics can only go so far. In the end, companies want to know they will feel comfortable with their new partners.

Read more articles about new business presentations.


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