Pitch It Right
Faced with these challenges, companies must ensure that they are best equipped for continued survival and success. Winning that new business deal has become more crucial than ever before.
In order to have potential clients listen to your business ideas and buy into your proposals, you have to speak persuasively. How you say something is as important as what you say. It is about sending a persuasive message back to the person or organisation you want to do business with, so you're selling them a real need, not a perceived need.
In the past, firms may rely on one or two people to pitch for business; it is now becoming the case where nearly everyone in a company is required to participate in bringing in the business.
One of the other trends we are seeing is how Asian companies are expanding externally towards Europe and USA. These businesses have had to sharpen their skills to present convincingly and persuasively to a Western audience. This calls for a completely new approach to communication, which Asian CEOs have to learn.
Asian CEOs have to adapt their communication style from a need-to-know basis to one that is more transparent and persuasive. There is a need to give out more information, to a more discerning audience, in a controlled fashion.
The key to a persuasive business pitch is to be prepared. New business pitches generally fail because of a lack of understanding of the prospective clients' needs, irrelevant credentials and inadequate preparation.
When you are chasing any piece of business, the efforts you have to put in to win can be enormous. Being involved in a client's pitch means living and breathing the business from day one.
Everyone can be a winner provided they manage to avoid five common pitfalls in pitching.
Talking about yourself: Assuming a prospective client cares at all about the company's capabilities is a mistake. Pitchers are encouraged to place more emphasis in discussing solutions to the prospective client's problems rather than describing the company's workforce size or turnover statistics.
Pitching without owning the client: Place yourself in the client's shoes, and tailor your pitch as though you are in the client's team and share their problem. Companies that win pitches understand the client's business better than their competitors.
Lack of evidence: Evidence such as statistics, case studies, strong visual aids (charts, spreadsheets etc), demonstrations, hypothetical arguments and testimonials lend credibility to the presentation.
Relying on the tender document: Presentations should confirm the client's decision to award the business deal to you.
Answering the client rationally without addressing the emotion: People rationalise with their minds, but buy with their hearts. Address the client's emotion because at the end of the day, they have to like you or respect you.
Here are several winning techniques to help companies prepare the perfect presentation and clinch the deal.
Building a War Room: The war room is any place where the pitch team can brainstorm, research prospective clients as well as competitors, strategise, and rehearse. It is also a place for incredible creativity and focus.
Face-to-Face Interaction: A programme of client interaction is designed to help companies better understand the client's business and to ensure that they have all the right answers for all the questions the client are likely to ask.
Creating a Persuasive Presentation: Decide what tactics will help you win the business and then create the most persuasive presentation. Take time out for at least three rehearsals before the big day.
Present to win
One must remember that a pitch presentation is not a speech to a large gathering, or to a small one - it is a mixture. The distinction is worth making because many executives treat pitch presentations either too formally or informally.
As a presenter in a pitch, your objective is to persuade the listeners to make an immediate decision and/or to commit to a course of action. This decision is often of considerable magnitude. Therefore you need to organise your presentation. It needs to be a simple, but with tight organisation.
The introduction: In your introduction you present your listeners with the main theme, tone and style of your presentation. Tell them what to expect. Generally, the shorter, the simpler, the better.
Reasons for listening: Sell the subject to them - explain why they should listen. If appropriate, also tell them something about yourself in order to help set the scene and justify why you are the presenter.
Teaser: Given them the map of the journey. "First I shall talk about ... then we will look at... and finally we'll investigate..."
Content: This is the meat of your presentation. Ensure you cut into digestible mouthfuls. You have given the audience the map; stick to the route you promised. Too many facts, too many deviations, too many ideas will detract from your main message.
Conclusion: Round up the major points, highlighting your main ideas once more and reiterating your key propositions. Remind the audience why your company is the right choice. Answer at this stage any negatives that might be in the minds of your perspective clients.
What above all will they remember about your pitch?
End on a high note. Pull all the strands of your speech together in the summary. Leave them in no doubt of your conviction, your main proposition and its validity: "In five years you will wonder how you ever managed without ..."
Finally, just in case your final conclusion is not strident enough it is always a good idea to thank the perspective client for the opportunity and their attention.
Erin Atan is senior vice president Asia Pacific Lewis Global Public Relations
- Lewis PR
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