How to deliver the winning pitch

How to deliver the winning pitch

The time has come for you to present your final pitch. The pleasantries are over, the spotlight falls on you and the prospective client awaits.  It’s a win or lose situation, so how do you deliver the winning pitch?

The final pitch is generally your last chance to clinch the sale and convince the potential client to appoint you. We understand that pitching doesn’t come naturally to everyone, but if you are out of practice or ill-prepared, your audience will be the first to notice.

Whether you are pitching to win a project, attract a new prospect or secure investment, Jack Downton and Adrian Howland from the Influence Business provide you with 6 simple steps to help get your pitch heading in the right direction.

1. Preparation

Work out your key messages before deciding who will present them.  Consider this from two angles:  Firstly, what differentiates you from your competitors?  Secondly, ask yourself this question:  “If I were being pitched to, what would I need to hear in order to appoint them?”  So – it is not what you want to tell them but what they need to hear from you and it needs to be compelling.   Only then, decide on the participants and structure.

2. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse

Rehearse getting your key messages across.  Ensure everyone has a speaking part and that those who present are there for a reason, namely because of the issues you have identified.  Rehearse your introductions, allowing each member of the team to introduce themselves.  They must be explicit as to how their experience is relevant to the matter in hand.  Rehearse handling likely questions. Make sure the first thing you say is the answer; follow it up with some further detail and then stop.  The great danger is that you don’t answer the question and go on too long, so they stop listening, or say too much when you are unsure of the answer.

3. Organise

Organise your pitch so that everyone has something useful to say and ideally take with you a younger member of the team who would actually do the work.  A client asked this question:  “I’m delighted to see so many partners at the tender stage.  How often will we see them in future?”  Apportion your slot sensibly between presentation and question/discussion time.  A rule of thumb is one third for the presentation and the other two thirds for questions and discussion.  This is where the client gets the chance to ask the questions not covered in your presentation…and often those that have been! Think also of questions you would like to ask the client and who will ask them.

4. Visual aids

Less is more! Visual aids are there to help the prospective client understand your point more effectively.  They should not be used as a crutch to support you.  Consider using a presentation card with pictures of the team, names and key messages of your pitch and if using PowerPoint, remember – less is more!  The most important thing about visual aids is this:  when the prospect is looking at them, they’re not looking at you and frequently you are the main differentiator.

5. What sort of room?

Find out if you can, which room the presentation will be held in and the room layout.  Your less experienced members will thank you for it and it will help you all create a positive first impression where you are seen as confident yet relaxed.

6. Style of presentation

Be prepared for anything and for the client to hijack your carefully prepared and rehearsed presentation.  They may prefer a more discursive style, especially if you are fifth out of five firms on the same day.  Remember the old saying:  you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.  Capture their imagination in your first words and start with a good pause and eye contact. Don’t forget to smile – it is highly engaging.