With the economic downturn and the possibility of a recession, the need to secure new business becomes increasingly important.
Remembering these points as you enter the boardroom could be the factor that sets you apart from other potential vendors.
Here you can find out what you need to consider when pitching a business start-up.
1. Know the opportunity
In the past I have given insights into the flow of the RFP process.
You have now passed this point as you have been selected as a presenter in hopes of gaining new business.
The RFP process gave you strict guidelines for the request as well as likely outcomes.
However, don’t approach the task with blinders on. My point here is that while request may not be your forte, completing the task will likely bring opportunity to your organization.
For example, website development may not be your claim to fame, but successful completion may lead to ongoing marketing and promotional efforts. Be open to stepping out of your comfort zone in your willingness to work.
This relationship may offer greater potential for lifetime value, and may also give you an opportunity to explore an offer that you don’t currently have much experience with – but possibly in the future.
2. What does success look like?
Yes, until now you have been told what the potential customer is looking for.
However, as experts in digital marketing, it is our job to listen – not necessarily to find the solution, but to define what KPIs can look like that can lead to success.
Often the metric of success is offline, but it’s your job to be the digital bridge to that success.
Listen to the end goal. The customer tells you what keeps them up at night, but also listen to find out what would make them happy.
They may not be able to fulfill their desire directly, but you can use your expertise to envision the content strategy, advertising platform, and tactics that will ultimately lead them to success.
3. Don’t be a stranger
The hour you spend with the team of prospects is your chance to prove you’re the right choice.
No one wants to feel like they are entertaining a stranger.
This is your opportunity to show that you are not an untried relationship, but rather an extension of their organization.
Take the time to show how you’ve seamlessly integrated with other business processes in the past. Discuss your agility when working with groups of diverse industries, company sizes, and workflow needs.
4. You’re smart, but so is everyone else
Drop your ego at the door; Don’t confuse ego with confidence.
You have to keep in mind that as AI evolves, the ability to resource, research, and complete tasks will become a level playing field.
The proof of your intelligence must lie in what you offer that others cannot. What do you offer that a robot cannot?
This is the time to talk about corporate and team structures. Talk to dedicated account managers about internal processes and why the customer will look forward to being with you at their next meeting.
5. Use the leader’s ears
Don’t go too far; You have not yet been given the job, but have been given the opportunity to meet with management.
Remember, you need to understand their wants, needs, and success metrics.
In the future you will likely have day-to-day contact in a middle management position where access to key decision makers may be sparse. Be the person they want to talk to again.
6. Don’t reveal the secret sauce
This can be very difficult in your attempt to sell who you are and what you can do. Personally, I’ve found that I’m revealing too much about what can be done to answer the question to demonstrate my digital expertise.
Keep in mind that you may be over-disclosing, which could lead stingy prospects to think they can just take your idea internally.
If you already have the solution, the client may not have an incentive to spend the budget on campaign discovery, research, etc.
Know the need, but also be honest that you don’t yet know the solution.
However, you know the next steps and can convey how your process and expertise find the way.
7. Be yourself
The best pitches are the ones you don’t make it in the first place because you’re so engrossed in fruitful conversations and questions.
While the prospect wants to include your intelligence, they also want to know what working with you will be like.
Show your ability to collaborate, generate quick ideas, ask questions, etc. Especially in the world of digital marketing, simply bragging about your software tools will not impress your audience.
What will impress them is showing how to use these tools creatively to achieve successful end results.
When you show how your personality and creativity are reflected in your work, you will be the vendor candidate that sets you apart.
8. You are the case study
Anyone can point to a screen and brag about a possibly made-up success metric that has grown by X amount. A case study should not simply show that you completed a task and were able to do it well.
Add emotion to the story. Don’t just talk about the highlights; be honest.
Talk about what went wrong. Talk about the challenges and the times you didn’t think it would work—then explain how your team found solutions and ways to persevere.
9. Pack your Columbo
You don’t have to give away the secret, as I just mentioned, but don’t be afraid to do your homework and come up with a very quick fix that can result in instant changes to the prospect’s website or advertising campaigns.
For this reason, access to analytics, content management systems (CMS) or advertising platforms can help to advance your research.
A wise friend once taught me this technique and it is a helpful way to go from hopefully remembered to a necessary solution provider for the customer.
10. Enjoy yourself
The pitch process can be a hectic and nerve-wracking time trying to do your best.
While your eyes may be on the prospect and the deal, this is also a good time to enjoy the journey and evaluate your team.
It’s your chance to showcase your talent and knowledge of your craft, but also a chance to see great teamwork in action.
Even though there are difficult times ahead, it is our job to help others and find great partnerships.
Even if you feel like you’ve mastered these communication styles and presentation approaches, it doesn’t hurt to think about the sometimes small things that help you succeed.
These tips should help you understand that in an era of robotic development, being human opens the way to a new contract.
Featured Image: Black Salmon/Shutterstock