On a recent spring evening, I was with my wife walking our dog when my cell phone rang. When I saw who was calling, I took a deep breath before pressing the answer button. “How did it go?” I asked, as I picked up, not even bothering to say “Hello.” It was the senior marketing officer of a large commercial contractor. We didn’t need small talk. He knew what I wanted to know. For the past two days, I worked with his team of experienced builders in a conference room. We hammered out and then rehearsed a new business pitch. The prize was a contract to build a $150 million office building. His was one of three firms on the short list. That morning, all three had delivered a ninety-minute pitch competing for the job. “We won,” he said, almost screaming into the phone. “They just
How to Win a Pitch called us to let us know. They said we blew the other teams away.” I did a little jig beside the road. My wife laughed. My dog barked. But I wasn’t too surprised. I had seen the same thing happen over and over again. My client had put together a great pitch with a laser-like focus on the client’s key business challenges. The message was extremely simple and organized. They rehearsed it like crazy. They even spent a couple of hours going through all the possible questions they expected to receive. The team was prepared. My experience has shown that with the proper preparation and planning, you can greatly increase your chance of winning a pitch. That’s what this book is about. You will learn how to consistently win new business pitches with a simple plan that applies to all businesses. My firm has been helping companies win new business pitches for twenty-two years. We have worked with a broad cross-section of businesses: commercial contractors, law firms, architecture firms, accounting firms, insurance agencies, financial services firms, software firms, high-tech service providers, real estate firms, and many others. We have helped our clients win billions of dollars worth of new business contracts. And we have learned that you don’t win new business pitches by being the “best” firm. In fact, whether you are the best is usually irrelevant to whether you win. That shouldn’t be too surprising for most businesspeople. Generally, firms that make it to the short list for an important piece of new business do great work. And the buyer can’t really tell which firm is the best. If they’re honest, most competitors for new business would admit that their competition could also do a great job. Since doing great work doesn’t win the job, what does win? Repeatedly, we see that the firms consistently winning competixiv
Introduction tive business pitches are the ones simply delivering the best pitch. That means executing five simple sales pitch fundamentals better than the competition does. Those fundamentals include ensuring that the pitch is: • • • • •
Focused on a business solution Simply organized Delivered with passion Interactive Well-rehearsed
These five fundamentals are the ingredients for a simple plan to winning new business. As you will see, this book is broken into five sections. Each section provides a detailed discussion and series of recipes for how to execute every step of the plan. You’ll find stories taken from my experiences in helping my clients win new business presentations. In working with dozens of companies across many types of business, I’ve found that all of them have one major thing in common. They worry about how to make their firm stand out from the competition. By executing the fundamentals in this book, you will stand out.