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Monday, March 23, 2009

How to (really) win a pitch

When Joey Asher approached me with an invitation to review his book: How to Win a Pitch: The Five Fundamentals That Will Distinguish You from the Competition my first reaction, frankly, was to recoil.

The word "pitch" conveys everything that is wrong about marketing within the AEC environment -- the stand-em-up, shoot-em-down BS-filled presentation which will never work unless you are so well connected with the project that you really shouldn't need to pitch, anyways . . .

Well, turns out Asher and I agree on the basics: Most pitches are terrible, and most pitches fail because they are, well, pitches!

(Asher doesn't define it this way, but I'll give my definition of a "Pitch". You receive your RFP or "Invitation to Bid" and you bring out your team and hash out some ideas, then show up with your standard power point presentation, and proceed to, boringly, "dazzle" your prospective clients, who had actually chosen someone else already . . .)

Asher makes it quite clear that in most cases you haven't got a chance in a thousand to win this type of "pitch". You have to have a relationship with the people and organization to whom you are presenting -- at least enough of a relationship to know the story behind the story; the real reason they have requested your proposal, and then, your job is to develop a well-thought and researched (and enthusiastic) presentation showing the prospective client how you can actually and truly solve the potential client's challenges.

In other words, you need to wire this story in your favour before you even go into the conference room to deliver your presentation. And you want an environment where the people in the room are peppering you with questions, so much that your focus is engaged in a conversation rather than a "pitch" with the people to whom you hope to do business with.

Of course, once you've done your homework, and followed Asher's advice, you'll likely stand out from the crowd. His point is if you make it to the point where you are on the short list of finalists, you obviously have enough technical capability to win the work: So the real decision is going to be on how you relate to the people who are making the decision -- and the best way you can relate to them is to share real ideas and insights, and involve them in the process, and be really prepared.

There's lots of good stuff in this book. Asher is effectively using it to promote his pitch-preparation and coaching business. But you don't need to pay for his extended services to gain value.

So, he succeeded.

Asher's "pitch" worked because he knew his market and the obvious relevance of his book to this blog.

Next posting, I'll share with you his five fundamentals.

If you want to buy the book, you can find it at Amazon.

2 comments:

Hammer said...

Six months ago social networking was a concept I could only guess at as far as knowing what it was. I was a member of some online forums and through that I was made aware of Construction Marketing Ideas by Mark Buckshon who got me going to Matt Handal's Help Everybody Everyday and then I got turned onto the Wizard of Ads by a friend. What a wealth of good information and good will. What a powerful source of free and relevant information. All you needed was internet access and an open mind and a world of advice was there for the taking.
Since I became involved in social networking I learned the most important benefit was the help I received for free also promoted and advanced the givers, as well as the takers of this buffet of information. I have joined the feast and bring my own expertise to the table. This give and take is becoming the most powerful experience in learning I have ever been involved in.
So Matt, Mark and all the others, thanks and if you ever need anything, you got it.

Mark Buckshon said...

Thanks for your comments and observations. The fundamental rules of networking haven't changed in the era of Internet/Social Networking; the big difference is the speed in which connections can be made and re-established. The challenge for us to remember is that we need to get beyond the superficialities, but we now all (as individuals) have access to resources formerly available only to a few gatekeepers, like journalists, to spread messages, good-will and enhance relationships.