More Zen_of_Ten, Business Edition. 10 ways to be great at new business, and win the pitch, every time:
1. Be Different. Make sure you’re clear about what sets you apart, and lean into it. Don’t be shy – you are who you are, and clients will embrace it, or not. Just make sure you find the intersection point between your difference and the clients’ need. Purple milk is different, just not that relevant.
2. Be Specific. Have a point of view about the client’s needs and how you’d address them.
3. Start with Them. Avoid the upfront bios, nice to be here, etc. Slide one = thoughts about the client’s business challenge and how we see things. Get to them as quickly as you can. Trust me.
4. Have a POV. Always, always, always. Even if you’re wrong, you’re right. Clients pay for a point of view.
5. Be Conversational. Less presentation voice, more conversation voice. And, maybe, not even always indoor voices. It’s ok to be excited, show your passion and your resolve on their behalf. Again, no marketing speak, forget jargon and lingo, just straight talk.
Above all, just be yourself. A normal, mistake-making, eager to please human with a point of view. No more, no less.
6. No Suits. Dress casually. Think formally. Be serious without being serious-minded.
7. Be Physical. Wherever possible, break the monotony and flow of just powerpoint. Bring in flow charts, use the whiteboard…be creative not just in your ideas, but also in the sharing of your ideas.
8. Be Light-Hearted. Humor is fine, but it can’t be forced. Find places to have some fun, but do so in the flow of the conversation.
Above all, be yourself. Have fun. It’s not life or death – it’s an opportunity to work with an amazing new client. Embrace it, don’t choke on it.
9. Avoid Statements Like These. “We really are so fun,” “We really want to work with you,” etc. Blah blah. They will seem ingenuine, and clients can see that. If you can’t argue the opposite, then don’t say it. Show, don’t tell. You can’t tell someone you’re funny – you either make them laugh, or you don’t. They’ll feel and sense your culture, and it will be right for them, or not. Your only job is to make sure they understand who you are, and what you’re on about. Then, they’ll choose.
10. Everyone Speaks. No one should be in the room without a role, and a speaking role. Corollary – if someone has done the work, they deserve to be in the room, regardless of seniority or rank. Corollary #2 – you don’t need the CEO to introduce the team, who then hands off to the Account Director who says how glad she is to be there, and reintroduces the team, and so on. Remove those layers, get on with it.