Most Pitches Are Ass-Backwards

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Here’s how most teams pitch business.  After the initial greetings and the mandatory “We’re excited to be here” they start from the left of the diagram and work towards the right.

WHO → HOW → WHY/WHAT

“Let me tell you about my company (tells company story). Let me tell you about the people I brought with me today (introduces everyone with bios). Let me tell you how we work (describes process). What our mission statement is (reads statement). What drives us (gets teary eyed). What makes our clients so successful (drops names). Here is the agenda for this meeting (reviews every detail).  OK. Let’s get started.”

The problem is that the pitch team used the most valuable real estate of the pitch, the opening, to talk about themselves and hardly anything about the prospect. Always remember this in a pitch:

The prospect could care less about your company, your team and your mission statement. The prospect only cares about the prospect.

Then, to make matters worse, the pitch team wants to discuss the WHY—WHY the prospect should hire them.

The prospect, assuming she is still awake, is much more interested in the WHAT of the pitch: WHAT are you going to do to fix my problems? WHAT will you do to make me look better in my boss’s eyes? WHAT strategy will you use against my hated competitors? WHAT will you do to make me more successful?

Here’s a better plan

WHAT → HOW → WHO

The first thing out of the pitch leader’s mouth after Good Morning should be WHAT the team will do for the prospect. This may include saying things like:

“We think the biggest challenge you have to succeed is X.  We say that based on this research. WHAT we aim to do is focus ruthlessly on X. Here is HOW we will overcome X.  We’ll do these three things. Here is WHO we brought with us today because they are experts at combating X. Our company has a long track record in this area, as well. OK. Let’s get started.”

This opening is totally tailored to the prospect and her needs. Nothing else. It’s all about the benefits you are bringing to the party.  And, you will own the client’s attention.

I can hear the cries now. “We didn’t get to tell them why they should hire us.” If you did a good job it will be apparent, but the time to do that is in the close.  Give a summary of the pitch and tell them why you are best suited for handling the business. Then ask for the account.”

Send me a basket of fruit as a thank you when you win.

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