Deconstructing The Pitch: Ingredients for success
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Deconstructing The Pitch: Ingredients for success

Chemistry, ideas and presentation skills win out as our panel explores how to develop a killer new business pitch.

Arun Sudhaman

Chemistry, ideas and presentation skills win out as our panel explores how to develop a killer new business pitch. And if you’re wooing Diageo comms director Stephen Doherty, avoid bringing “tossers”.

Our investigation into new business pitching is a five part-series. Jump to the following sections:

New business in a new era
Your best pitch
Is pitch theatre a good idea?

The best ‘pitcher’ you have ever seen

Panel
SD: Stephen Doherty, international comms director, Diageo
BF: Bob Feldman, partner and co-founder, PulsePoint Group
KH: Ken Hong, global comms director, LG Electronics
MS: Michael Sullivan, head of consumer, MSLGroup US
DS: Doug Spong, president, Carmichael Lynch Spong
TD: Todd Defren, principal, Shift Group
CA: Clive Armitage, CEO, Bite Communications
AB: Andrew Bloch, MD, Frank PR
AS: Anna Shipley, director of comms, Nokia China, Korea and Japan

SD: Having an offer that is grounded in the commercial objectives of the prospect is very important. It should be as much a commercial conversation as a comms conversation. Chemistry matters a hell of a lot. You don’t want to spend time with people you think are tossers. Charisma matters. And intelligence. Showmanship matters.It’s unlikely you will be successful at selling stories if you can’t even sell your own offer.

BF: Careful planning and execution along three parallel tracks: program development, relationship development and presentation development. Each is an independent requirement, although obviously inter-related. At the end of the day, when the pitch is actually happening, a few things are essential: the presenting team must already know key clients in the room; the presenters are smart, really know the business and provide fresh insights with good creative thinking leveraging all forms of communication, especially digital; and there's strong chemistry.

KH: 1. introducing a different solution to a stubborn problem; 2. good chemistry with the right balance of senior advisors and young staff who are excited to be working on the client's brand: and, 3. a package that the client feels is good value for the money.

MS: Smarts and sass…distinctive insights that lead to a very compelling strategy that goes beyond any particular marketing discipline and shows an ability to understand the brand and the business in a way that is bigger and smarter than the client is asking for. Ideas need to be great, which means being both highly creative and clearly related back to advancing the strategy. Finally, the whole thing needs to be expressed visually and verbally with flair and some degree of entertainment value.

DS: Team chemistry and great thinking.

TD: You need a ton of creative ideas – which you can then whittle down to the most relevant and impactful.  Bring as many team members as possible and make sure they all have something to say: don’t bring wallflowers. (For that matter, don’t hire wallflowers!) Ideas and chemistry win.        

CA: Chemistry is huge; if the agency and in house teams gel really well then that can often be enough to win the business. A crucial factor is also belief – the best agencies walk into pitches *believing* they are the best option for the client and this confidence can be the thing that makes a difference to the decision.

AB: I’m not sure there are ingredients for a successful pitch. At Frank we always try to start with a blank sheet of paper and an open mind. More and more it’s about ‘ best idea wins’ with clients being less bothered about where that idea comes from.

AS: Insightful and articulate presenters that showcase depth in the team. MDs are important but they do not make the day to day media relations or campaign execution happen. I also look for true thoughtfulness about the brand and an ability to tackle both its positives and negatives. Sometimes, agencies don’t want to upset the client but being insightful and tactful is possible and appreciated.

Our investigation into new business pitching is a five part-series. Jump to the following sections:

New business in a new era
Your best pitch
Is pitch theatre a good idea?

The best ‘pitcher’ you have ever seen

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