YOU’VE GOT THE PITCH STRATEGY SORTED, WHAT'S NEXT?
Persuasive content and preparing your pitch team for success
We get asked to support a range of pitches from those worth a few thousand $ up to those worth 10’s of $millions. Clearly the level of detail varies hugely between each of those pitches but the key messages around getting the content convincing stay very similar. So when you’ve taken the time to get your pitch strategy right, focus next on your pitch content and getting that as persuasive as possible. And more than just the persuasive content you also need to prepare your team to deliver the pitch.
But before I get into the nitty gritty let me quickly remind you that when you get to talking about you/your solution/your business focus on the things that are truly distinctive. Make sure you explain why the distinctiveness is valuable (or potentially valuable) to the client.
Criteria, which criteria?
The next bit is something many people don’t quite get right. Your prospective client – large or small – will have a set of criteria they will use to decide who to buy from. If they publish those, great – make sure you meet the criteria and if there are one or two you can’t meet, then show how you can achieve the objective behind the criteria. If the criteria are published, then it is important to realise that each individual at the client is likely to have different “hidden” criteria. Spend some time thinking about what those criteria might be. Then think about the relative power of each individual and decide if you want to show you can meet the “hidden” criteria. It might be that you can’t talk to them or get much insight. It is worth looking at their social media posts especially Linkedin to give you some clues.
Professional services pitches – create persuasive content
Let’s now segue into the content. People still buy from people so think about how you come across as authentic and build a personal story into your pitch, something that shows you as human.
Here’s a great piece from @PresentationLoad with a couple of excellent ideas that you might want to incorporate:
“A great story creates a personal connection with your audience and gives your audience the feeling of being involved and understood. If you start your presentation with a short personal experience, you will generate an emotional response and demonstrably increase attention. Stories increase the information intake many times over! And do try and make it a bit more than the awful train journey you have had.
“Give your statements more weight by using meaningful headlines, so-called “Action Titles”. These summarize the key message of your slide in one sentence, so that your audience can immediately internalize the most important aspect of your slide by reading the headline.
“Think of your slide heading as a newspaper title, because it is always read first. Avoid titles that are too general, such as “sales development” or “organizational structure”, these are not very meaningful. It is better to have specific statements that support your core message, e.g. “Positive sales development in 2019” or “Our sales increased by 15% in the last quarter”.
Is more less, or less more?
When it comes to any material you use remember that more really is less. Yes, you need to answer what you’ve been asked – but the more words you put on a slide the less your audience will listen to you. If you can, use pictures rather than words.
When you come to present don’t forget that old adage tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them and then tell them what you’ve told them. So lots of short summaries like, “the key point we are making here is……”.
And if you’re not using slides in your pitch concentrate even more on the messaging – keep what you say clear and concise. Remember to paint a verbal picture that engages your audience and meets the client’s needs.
Prepare your pitch team for success
Of course, you can’t pitch well if you haven’t got a great pitch team behind you. Work out who needs to be part of the team and why. What does it take to get ready to pitch? The simple answer is prepare together, rehearse and rehearse some more. For some smaller pitches that might not be cost effective but at the very least make sure everyone is really clear on which bits that they are doing; how questions will be handled and by whom. Don’t forget that these days the client wants to hear from everyone in your team – if they are not going to say anything why are they there?
I hope you’ve found this information useful – if you want to know more or need some help on pitches then please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
About John Moss – John’s extensive background in sales, marketing and general management has been followed by three decades in management consultancy. John is fiercely committed to helping individuals and businesses grow and succeed; his talent for spotting what needs to be done, his tenacity for making sure things then happen, his commitment to growing long-term business relationships and his ability to impart that knowledge to other people make him an inspirational consultant, leader and coach.