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10 Ways to Win a Pitch


Yvonne van Bokhoven
Published on April 18, 2017
By Yvonne van Bokhoven

It's six times more expensive to win a new customer than to retain an existing one, is what traditional business wisdom says. However, in order to grow and to replace the inevitable churn, having an effective new business strategy is vital. 

hand holding first place medal
In my experience, there are ten ways to win a pitch:

1. Prepare

You cannot define a strategic approach without preparation. So read up on the brand, the competition and the industry. Use analytic tools to check out the prospect’s share of voice. And ask a lot of questions in the run up to the pitch. After all, the more information you have, the better. Don’t be afraid to challenge the brief. We are advisors and maybe the client really needs something different from the brief.

2. What is the story?

Start your process with deciding what your story is. Every pitch needs an overarching theme and story to go with it. Make sure this is the base of your pitch and that your ideas and tactics fall under the overarching umbrella theme. Reference to it throughout your pitch.

3. Pick a winning team

People buy from people that are like them. So when you select your pitch team, look closely at who you are presenting to. Make sure you match the number of people, if possible the balance between men and woman, and ideally ages. Each person you are presenting to should have a counterpart in your team.

4. It's a team effort

Don’t leave it to the last minute to brief the people in your team. Get them involved at an early stage so they understand the brand and the story you are going to deliver. When inviting them for a brainstorm, give them some homework beforehand, for instance something to research. Don’t have more than five people in the brainstorm; everyone on the team should present an equal number of slides and have an equal share in the pitch.

5. It is not all about the Powerpoint

Never lean too much on the deck alone and don’t go overboard on slides. Keep it to a maximum of 10-20, nobody likes death by PPT!

6. Make it visual 

A pitch is supposed to be entertaining and fun. This is the age of Instagram and YouTube. Use beautiful visuals, not boring standard ones of people in suits on their phones. Use gifs like the one included in this email. Show videos, ideally developed especially for this prospect.

7. Move away from the screen

You don’t want your audience looking at the screen only, they should look at you. So, break up the scene by showing foam storyboards, passing around hand-outs or writing on a whiteboard. Get them to move away from the screen and look at you instead of the slides.

hand writing with a red whit board marker

8. Rehearse!

Leave time to rehearse the pitch, at least two rehearsal rounds. And don’t be afraid to provide feedback. A dynamic and engaging delivery is crucial. So, educate each other and help one another improve. Make sure you leave more time for rehearsal with junior staff.

9. Delivery

It is not about YOU. When you deliver the pitch, try to engage the audience. Most people don’t like listening, but prefer talking, especially people in marketing or sales jobs. Prepare some questions beforehand that you are going to ask them. And be alert to signs of boredom/ disengagement. When people start looking at their phone, it is time to move to the next slide, stand up, move around, or ask them a question. When you leave the room and they have done most of the talking, then that is a good sign. 

10. Be keen, but not desperate

Everyone likes enthusiasm. So, smile, and show them you are keen for their business. Emphasize they will be an important client to you. Be confident, and project success. Everyone wants to be part of a winning team.

Of course, these are just top tips from my experience. Tell me yours!

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