What do you look for in a pitch?

Flashy case studies? Past work? Industry experience? By the time of the pitch, all remaining candidates likely have a strong case to work with you, but how do you find that winning edge?

To give you the best idea of what to look for in a presentation, let’s take a look at the process from the agency side of the table.

Had an opportunity to conduct my first pitch consulting engagement this week with an agency in the Southeast.

The agency was really good at winning smaller assignments, but historically had struggled to win bigger client prizes.

As part of the process, I reviewed their proposals won, proposals lost, RFPs won, RFPs lost, and had them present a recent pitch they had lost to help me get a complete look at how they are managing the development of their content for new business and how they are communicating and selling the value of their firm to marketers like you.

I reviewed their site, their collateral, and their case studies.

I interviewed the two principals and talked with 5 key employees (one-on-one) to gather perspective on what everyone felt was good about the agency, the value the agency brings to its clients, what they believed the differentiators for the agency were, and the opportunities they believed existed that could be better leveraged by the firm.

It was a day-long, energizing process.

It gave employees a voice, it opened the eyes of the principals to things they did not see, and shined a light on opportunities to better position their firm as they worked towards their goal of winning bigger, more profitable assignments.

I unearthed a number of things that they can improve upon and learned that they have some very talented individuals representing different practice areas of their firm that need to be part of the process, and aren’t.

At the end of the day, I found that there was one over-riding theme that seemed to permeate the entirety of their business development process: a lack of focus on you, the prospect, in everything they do.

Unfortunately, it’s too easy for an agency to fall into this trap. Things get busy, they get comfortable with their pitch, they recycle case studies without thinking about what parts of the case study really make the best sense for your situation, they blindly respond to proposal requests, and they don’t ask the tough questions to get the insights they need to make their pitch meaningful to you. They hear what they want to hear. They respond to opportunities the same way, regardless of who they are speaking to.

The life of a lazy agency. The kind of agency you want to avoid.

We all know it’s hard to take the time and really tailor all they do to the prospect they’re talking to.

But I say…tough luck. If they want your business in this day in age, they have to work to win it.

I principally believe that the way an agency looks today is a reflection of how they will operate tomorrow.

So if I’m an agency and I don’t put the energy and thinking into my response – or I don’t make the effort to make it about your business, what are you to think? “This agency is lazy today…what does that mean for our relationship tomorrow?”

Find the agency that gives it all they have! The one that really makes it count!
If you’re struggling to find an agency that can bring their “A-game” to all they do (proposals, presentations, pitches), give us a call (513-559-3101) or drop us a line (msneider@rswagencysearch.com). Happy to help out!