Tricks to watch out for if your business is up for pitch
If you are a client and your business is up for pitch, having all that attention from four or more suitors can be dazzlingly beguiling, David Kean explains what to look out for.
Caveat emptor -- buyer beware. A pitch plays the same role in the boardroom as a shop window display plays in the high street. It is there to entice. As a client, as a potential customer, you have to know what you're looking for and learn how to find the genuinely good merchandise. It is all too easy to be seduced by a glitzy window display only to find out, too late, that you have bought shoddy merchandise. In a pitch you have to look beyond the dazzling glare of the show that is being put on for your display. The trick is, how do you do that ?
Watch out for the following ten tricks designed to seduce you.
1. Overwhelming energy
During and immediately after the pitch period the pitching companies will strive to impress you with their stratospheric levels of dynamism. Beware you are not bamboozled by this -- you are not just buying energy. And energy is often re-directed on to the next prospective client the moment you appoint.
2. Chemical alchemy
A sure way to distinguish the companies competing for your business is to examine the way they spend the time available leading up to the final pitch presentation. The A players -- those companies who will probably do the best job for you -- will spend the vast majority of the time generating the best solution to your problem, only spending time with you in order to help them produce a better solution. The B players -- the ones who have a fabulous shop front window but precious little else -- will spend all their time getting to see you as much as possible just to spend time with you, getting you to know and like them. One experience will be content-rich, the other content-light.
3. Power PR
Really good pitchers will pull of a PR coup very publicly just at the time when you are about to see their presentation or award the business. Correspondingly, they will leak any and all stories which are detrimental to the other companies pitching to you.
4. The show
If you visit their premises, the moment the elevator doors go "ping" you are witnessing a show entirely for your benefit. The building will hum with activity. You will see people stride purposefully across the reception one way... then back the other way. They aren't really going anywhere. Little group meetings will be happening all around you. They aren't real meetings. All this is to impress you with what a happening place you can have at your disposal.
5. Man marking
Each person in your own company team who has a vote on which company to appoint will have been analysed, researched, personality profiled and discussed. And a member of the pitching team will have been assigned to each one of you to make you an ally in this battle for votes.
6. Rehearsed spontaneity
That apparent flash of inspirational genius in the middle of the presentation when a couple of the presentation team get excited about something you just said and produce a supposedly spontaneous, off the cuff insight or idea that you think has just been created before your very eyes. It hasn't. It's been very carefully choreographed.
7. Body language
Have someone in your team tasked with watching how the pitching team interact with each other. They will try to create the belief that they all get along. But watch them when they are off guard. Is this team really a team?
8. Going last
Professional pitchers ask to present last because they will be the last ones in your mind and because they can cut to the chase without going through all that tired old rigmarole all the other pitches have presented: CEO introduces the company and team; senior consultant replays your brief under the guise of giving you extraordinary insights on your business; long section on your market to demonstrate they understand your market and on and on.
9. Power play
It's been known for one pitching team to spike the guns of the their competitor by deliberately fusing the equipment in your presentation suite as they leave.
10. The A Team
You will have asked that the team who present are also the team who will really work on the business day to day. Watch out they don't field the pitch A Team -- those senior bods who put on the slickest show you've ever seen. They are eminently buyable but you will never see them again. Their job is to seduce you, but you'll end up married to some other bunch of people.
If all this worries you, you can avoid it by asking people you trust who they use and why. By all means go meet a few companies. But ask them which of their clients has awarded them more business without a pitch in the last year -- and get the figures to prove it. You'll save yourself a lot of time and you might just find the right partner for you.
David Kean is the author of 'How Not to Come Second - The Art of Winning Business Pitches', published by Cyan.
If you have an opinion on this or any other issue raised on Brand Republic, join the debate in the Forum.
Latest jobs Jobs web feed
- Integrated Account Manager Dynamic New Alliances £25000.00 - £30000.00 per annum, London
- Brand Analyst, Social Media Hasson Associates £30,000 - £35,000, Central London
- Senior Insight Manager Jarlett de Grouchy £30000.00 - £40000.00 per annum + car allowance+ bonus, Berkshire
- Associate Director, Consumer Research Jarlett de Grouchy £38000.00 - £45000.00 per annum, Oxfordshire
- Senior Innovation Manager Ball & Hoolahan £58,000 per Car/ Car Allowance, South East
- Range and Merchandising Executive Ball & Hoolahan £33,000 per annum, London