In the world of bid and proposals, you receive a request for proposal (RFP), you craft a compelling response and then you hear from the prospective client – “Can your team come in next week to present your proposal?”
Great news, right? But before you start rounding up your team, here are few things to help ensure things turn out pitch-perfect.
Do Your Due Diligence
As soon as you receive an invitation to come and pitch or present your proposal, the clock is ticking – you need to prepare the team, slides, content, creative, case studies and the list goes on.
First things first, do your homework – ask the client who is attending, what their roles are, and then start scouring the internet to find any context or back story on those individuals. The goal here is to seek out what these key stakeholders are doing in their organization, their role, what they might be concerned about, and how we can help find the right solution.
Background and research should not just be left to the capture or proposal lead – everyone involved on the pitch team should each do their own due diligence – this results in different intel gathered and a unique point of view.
Each team member brings a different perspective – it’s important to use those strengths rather than relying on a pitch outline or prospectus for the team to follow like a script
Craft the Deck Around the Client
When teams start to develop their pitch deck or outline for the presentation, many want to focus on themselves and their work, touting creativity and accomplishments – most of that information is either on your company website or in your proposal.
Clients don’t want to hear what your agency can do; you need to show what you can do for them. This show-me-don’t-tell-me approach needs to follow through each aspect of the presentation, from the upfront and introductions, to the execution, to the creative ideas or solutions you are presenting.
Pick a Path
Often a client says you have one hour for the pitch – “just walk us through the proposal”. Sounds simple, right? But what is the best place to start? There a few different paths to consider:
- You could simply follow the initial instructions and walk through the proposal, covering the team, the process, case studies, etc.
- You could craft an overall theme for the client to focus on their problem and how your company plans to solve it – backed by proof points and case studies as qualifying data points to your solution.
- You could open things up with thought-starters or observations based on the due diligence research – by asking four to five simple questions, you can help to engage the client early and upfront and start to gain initial trust and show value-added initiative.
Carefully Select Case Studies
The goal here is to pick case studies that are most relevant to the client, their mission, organization and what they want to accomplish. Each case study you select must go above and beyond to connect creativity with business results – they should tell a story while showcasing strong visuals and strategic elements.
If you select a case study that might not directly correlate with the client or their organization, it’s key that you tell a strong story to create that connection. Most often, it’s the importance of how you worked with that client in particular; how did you address their challenges; how did you focus on creating a solution.
The purpose of a client inviting you to come in and pitch is to get a sense of the team chemistry, their connection and working relationship with one another. Your pitch team must appear to have a strong bond – that they have been working and collaborating for years together.
It’s also important to create a connection with the client – after all, it’s one of the main reasons you are in the room with them. Can they connect with the team that they will be working with for the next six months, a year, or more?
Don’t Be Afraid to Head Off Course
Even the best pitch plans can take a left turn – this is a live environment. Just because you crafted the perfect pitch deck and carefully selected case studies, clients can throw off your plan within the blink of an eye – and that’s OK.
You need to remind your team to remain nimble, go with the flow – don’t force a theme or conversation that isn’t happening with what is happening in the room. Don’t be afraid to change course and change direction.
Remember, sometimes it’s the best-unlaid plan that helps clients uncover your real strengths and might just help seal the deal.