Six Secrets to Win a Pitch

Your pitch is a make-it-or-break-it factor in the world of ad agencies. You can’t skimp out on it. Otherwise, you’ll sink low in the sea of competitive advertisers and marketers. After all, it is a dog-eat-dog world. 

However, even industry experts are guilty of overloading a pitch, instead of focusing on showcasing confidence and smarts while delivering it. A key to winning pitches and getting ahead of the game is to offer a compelling but comprehensible spiel, not an overly enthusiastic one that will leave your potential clients disoriented. 

How to Win More Pitches

Should you decide to level up your “patter” game, here are some ways you can stand out and leave a lasting, positive impression on your target customers or clients.

1) Mind your actions as much as your script. 

Actions speak louder than words. When delivering a pitch, most professionals pour their hearts and souls in perfecting their “lines.” Unfortunately, your prospects, especially those who have been in the business for so long, know how agencies operate. Words do matter, and your delivery does require detail, but guess what? They know that you will say whatever they want to hear to get their account. What you don’t realize is they pay close attention to your behavior during the pitch process — quick response time to unexpected questions and demands, co-workers interaction, and even your emails and phone calls etiquette. 

To give you a convincing example, we decided to show the prospect how the people on our team are close to each other. Instead of doing the usual self-introduction, we decided to have one person introduce another, and so on. One of us was tasked to introduce the CEO. In haste and panic, he misspoke calling the CEO’s career average. The boss just laughed it off, and the poor man was able to deliver the rest of his speech with ease. Moreover, the prospect appreciated how light-hearted the introduction was and how tightly knit the team members were. It made him eager to work with us just by the simple gesture the CEO made regarding the mishap.

2) Be attentive and ask some questions.

The management team is used to being heard, and an ad agency team is accustomed to speaking. You can understand how this is a recipe for disaster.

Since your party is the one looking to win over the business, it stands to reason your side should be more accomodating. Always seek an opportunity to talk to your prospective company’s key people. Not only is it an excellent way to establish a deeper relationship with the would-be client, but it will also allow you to polish your concepts and tailor it to the business’s needs and the team’s long-term goal. Ask straight-forward questions to fire up the conversation, but remember that you are talking with the managers so take it as an opportunity to impress them.

Some of the most exciting questions you could ask include the following:

  • Where do you see the company in five years?
  • If everything falls into place, how do you want your customers to view your business?
  • If everything falls into place, how do you want your employees to see your business?
  • What do you think are the biggest hindrances that come between a bright future and your company?
  • What are your most significant worries?

The last question, for instance, can help you determine what to offer your potential clients. If the management is worried about a particular competitor, you could use it to your advantage and curate a solution to address that specific concern. You could also shine a light on how the suggested plan of action can affect your competitors.

3) Disregard what soon-to-be clients are claiming they want from an ad agency.

To be candid, potential clients and customers have no clue about what they are expecting from an ad agency. You shouldn’t rely on them to mind your business for you. What they are fully knowledgeable of, however, is their business, their goals for the future. 

Here’s a more precise depiction of what I am talking about: Once a prospect told us, they would rather go for a smaller-sized ad company. We were the second largest company in that area, but in an attempt to please the client, we gave our hardest to make him feel that the company was small—wrong move. The prospect, like all businessmen, wanted his business to thrive. If we had highlighted the benefits we can provide him in line with his objectives, he would have realized that our company’s size was the right fit for his needs. By scaling down our company’s size in our presentation in order to dangle a carrot in front of the client, we also minimized our potential. Later on, he understood that he needs a more prominent agency to carry out his goals. Unfortunately, it was not us.

4) Establish rapport than aiming to be the best.

Everyone’s strategy to weed out the competition is to outshine them. Customers can’t possibly determine the quality of each service being presented to them. They are all enticing, for sure, but which company can deliver? They will only get to choose one, and quite frankly, they will go for an agency that they feel closer with. Unfortunately, providing the most elaborate and fool-proof pitch can only get your foot in the door. Meanwhile, forming a relationship with your prospect can give you more than that. You could get a chance to enter the room and relax. 

Such was the case when we were wooing a retail chain brand. The customer was not fascinated with the first team they were working with, even though everyone performed quite well. Unfortunately, neither party felt at home. We changed the members of the group, risking being branded indecisive and undedicated. Thankfully, the recasting worked! The company appreciated how we were able to realize what was going wrong and that we were able to respond accordingly. 

5) Find a solid set-up that can set the foundation for your punchline.

What is a set-up? First off, determine why your would-be client’s target market is not taking the bait. It could address any problem, such as calling their hotline, visiting their website, going for bulk orders, and other pain points. The set-up tackles any issues with a straightforward narrative describing the audience’s negative reaction to a certain preferred action. It also includes the options that can change this, but you finish off with a punchline that provides the best solution.

The right set-up makes for a powerful punchline. Otherwise, no matter how extraordinary your punchline is, you lose your client’s attention along the way with a weak set-up.

6) Never bore anyone with the details.

It is necessary to burn the midnight oil while you absorb all the details of your marketing plan. It helps in case some members of the management have something to ask. You won’t end up looking clueless. However, the presentation itself should not sound like a lecture. These people are not expecting you to give them a play-by-play. Focus on hyping what you can provide. Talk about what issues they need addressed, but do not give the solution right away. Basically, try selling the idea at the beginning.

Tell them that to execute the best solution, they need to be involved. This will spark curiosity and eagerness. This approach is also consistent with entering into relations with your possible client. Only a few companies will work with an ad company that goes all technical in the first meeting. The last thing you want is to intimidate your prospects.

To sum up, you have to draw your attention to your prospect’s desires, converse with the management, establish a relationship, come up with a proper set-up covering all the shortcomings, and market the idea, not the comprehensive plan.

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