New business presentations, whether you agree with them or not, are very much a reality for just about every advertising, PR and media agency.
I reckon over the course of my career I have been involved in maybe 60 or more new business pitches and that numbers increases every single week.
Thankfully I have not won every pitch I have been involved in. I say thankfully because I have learnt something valuable from every single loss. So much so in fact that now I am in the fortunate position that I am winning more pitches than I lose.
In preparation for addressing a group of Newcastle University students this week, I developed a presentation focussing on what makes a good new business pitch. You can check it out below, but in case you don’t have the time to read it all below are my top tips.
The most important point:
- Realise that the client will most likely buy the best new business performance, not the best agency
- Know what the audience wants and treat them with respect – spend time with the client before the brief and do you homework from a research point of view. Know their sector, their competitors and do a thorough SWOT.
- Know the genre well – match your team to their requirements. In other words don’t wear suits to pitch to Nike and don’t bring 20 year olds to solve a major reputation crisis.
- Feature star performers – not everyone can be in the spotlight, some are better operating the spotlight. Play to team strengths and remember your goal as a team is to win, not to pander to egos.
- Ensure the performance is error free – rehearse, rehearse, rehearse and rehearse again.
- Engage your audience – when in the room, make it a two way conversation. Give the client a chance to provide feedback and guidance during your presentation.
- Build anticipation and climaxes – take your audience on a journey and make it memorable. Your presentation is not likely to be the only one, so make yours the one they remember!
- Remember it’s not over till the fat lady sings – the new business process is never over. Even a negative response is simply a signifier that the new business process has entered an extended courting period. Never be rude, always continue the engagement
I have learnt this stuff because I have been privileged enough to work with some of the best in the business when it comes to winning new business. These people include:
- Michelle Hutton – CEO Edelman Australia
- Chris Savage – CEO STW
- Samantha Allen – Global MD Consumer Practice Ogilvy PR
I also learnt a tonne reading this book – Stop Bitching and Start Pitching by Marty Kellard and Ian Elliot.
If you have additional suggestions for winning new business, or you disagree with any of my comments I would love to receive your feedback in the comment box.