Are you fed up of being a mute spare wheel in pitch meetings? Are you sick of being stuck behind your partners’ shadow? Do you wish you could exude charisma and gravitas so that you stand out for once? Many professionals looking for tips on pitching have asked us these questions, but what they didn’t know, is that many buyers are actually suspicious of slick and over-confident presenters. The question is then, “how can I get out from my partners’ shadow in pitch meetings without coming across as an annoying salesman?”
Scott Keyser, author of “Winner Takes All,” knows his stuff when it comes to pitching and tenders. That’s why we asked hime to run a virtual masterclass on how to improve your tender win rate (and spend less time on responding to tenders overall). This article is based on advice that Scott shared in the questions portion of the virtual masterclass. To listen to the first 20 minutes of the virtual masterclass, click on the video embedded below.
If you listen to the whole of the virtual masterclass you will learn:
- The typical (public sector) bid process
- The mountain analogy: Where many professional services bids go wrong
- Scott’s secret sauce: the 7 ingredients needed to increase your bid win rate
- Tips on winning new work from new clients in this COVID-19 world
- How to deal with pressure on pricing – particularly in this COVID-19 world
- How to sway the decision where price is the top consideration
- How to stop being the ‘spare wheel’ in a pitch meeting (his top tips for pitching)
You can know everything there is to know about tenders, such as the process and how to write a successful bid, but if you can’t get out of your partners’ shadow and pitch successfully, then you won’t be increasing your tender win rate. To do both of those things, here are our top tips for pitching.
5 top tips for pitching
1. Research, plan, and prepare
It goes without saying that you need to research, plan, and prepare for a pitch. Not only must you know your stuff (about the buyer, their business, their needs, and what they want you to be able to do etc), but you also need to ensure that your messages are properly joined up.
Research has shown that most buyers are looking for a softer approach (they don’t want to be sold too) and that they pay more attention to clear and concise presentations that last around 20 minutes and only focus on a few key points. In summary, preparation is important and always have the KISS principle in mind (Keep It Simple Stupid!).
2. Focus on the buyers’ needs
One of the best tips on pitching and THE best way to get out of your partners’ shadow in a pitch is to show genuine interest in the buyer and their business. It really is that simple. Focus on their needs and their specific challenges, and understand them and address these pain points. If you do this, then they will gravitate towards you.
Many studies have shown that specific emotions influence decision-making; they are part of the mechanism of reasoning and inform even our most logical decisions. Take Zaltman’s (2016) study which showed that 95% of our cognition happens in our emotional brain. This means that it’s not enough just to show the buyer what should be done; it’s essential to help them feel it needs to be done.
If you can be empathetic towards the buyers’ needs and make them feel that you understand them and value them, there is serious power in this. If you can show the buyer/s that you speak their language and make them feel confident that you’ll take care of them, they won’t forget this.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”
– Maya Angelou
3. Go above and beyond the brief
The client will need to hear certain information about the project and about any extensive research you’ve done around this, but the way you can stand out from your partner is if you go above and beyond this brief. I’m talking about researching deeper into the history of the organisation, its values, its reputation, maybe even some key business relationships. Whatever is relevant, but will make the client extremely impressed.
Now, this is a win-win situation as the more information you gather, the more likely you will be able to tailor the material to their specific needs and language and the more you likely you can innovate ideas and add value. Going above and beyond also shows enthusiasm and motivation to go the extra mile which is highly desirable.
Our subscriber-only Progress to Partner membership site has a great Game Plan called “…I’m a good technician but don’t have a client portfolio” to help you get started on your networking and business development journey.
4. Take the spotlight off yourself
It might seem strange as a tip for getting out from your partners’ shadow, but taking the spotlight off yourself and letting other team members speak is a really great way to stand out to a buyer. As we mentioned previously in the article, buyers prefer a softer approach when it comes to pitching and they feel quite ill at ease with an uber slick and confident individual. They don’t trust them in a hurry so naturally, the best way to appeal to them is to involve the whole team.
Before the pitch, make sure that everyone is aware of their roles in the presentation; make sure that every individual gets to have some time to add value. The goal here is to model the message. If you will be working as a team, then there needs to be some congruency between your message and behaviour. Every team member will need to build rapport and connect with the potential client, so this is the ideal time to let them do that. Not only does this increase the confidence of everyone participating, but it also allows your team to gel so that the client sees real cohesion.
5. Anticipate disasters
Last, but not least, for our tips on pitching is to be overprepared and anticipate disasters. By disasters, we mean…what would you do if there was a power or equipment failure (the classic is when a PowerPoint or projector doesn’t work)? What would you do if someone from your team calls in sick or is late to the meeting? What would you do if the client asks a difficult question or if they decide to take the meeting in a totally different direction?
By thinking of the “what if?” scenarios and what your response would be, if one of those particular scenarios were to happen on the day, you can just take immediate action. Being so quick to adapt and ensure that everything carries on running smoothly will be very much appreciated and remembered.
Step out of your partners’ shadow
If you’ve had enough of being the mute spare wheel in pitch meetings, take our advice and stand out. All it takes is for you to show enthusiasm, teamwork, a genuine interest in the buyer and their business, and the motivation to go the extra mile.
All of our tips on pitching help you to answer the one fundamental question that your buyer has – “can I work with these guys for the long term?” If you show a genuine interest in the buyer’s business and come along to the meeting well-informed about their specific challenges and needs, the answer will be a resounding yes. Even if you’re not the most confident or extroverted individual, your knowledge, authenticity, and cohesion as a team will more than make up for it.
For more of Scott’s tips on how to write a bid document and increase your tender win rate:
Join our subscriber-only site Progress To Partner . Membership starts at an incredible £35+VAT for 12 months.The whole of Scott’s webinar recording is in the membership site.
This is what listeners to the virtual masterclass said about it:
“Thanks very much for the session and useful tips!”
“The seven ingredients are brilliant – not sure I have had such a succinct summary before”
Take a look at how your Progress to Partner subscription can help even the most reluctant networker to build a partner-sized client portfolio – Progress to Partner & Business Development