The following notes come from a presentation delivered by marketing gurus Tom Patty and John Pietro at a CEO Forum speaker event:
- “the desire” is key to improving your pitch
- getting better at the pitch means getting more business; we’re all pitching, all the time
- 2 ways to grow business
- get more customers
- do more business with existing customers
- the pitch is when you persuade someone to give something to you, and it usually involves competition with others trying to do the same
- 7 things you must do to win the pitch
- know your client; if you don’t know much about them, you’ll probably lose
- know your competition; do you know who you’re competing against, including the alternative of “No.” or “Not interested.”?
- know how your client perceives you; look them in the eyes to see how they’re responding to you, engage quickly or the story is over
- know your client’s business; what do they do well, poorly? “feet on the street”
- know how their customer’s perceive them; show what you’ve learned from their customers
- have a great pitch team; look in the mirror, don’t be the “behind the counter manager”
- be lucky; “the harder I work, the luckier I get” attributed to Lincoln
- why do winners win? because they make a connection; they know what the other person is thinking all the time
- 8 strategies for connecting
- common interest
- common values
- common friends
- common beliefs
- sincere interest in the other
- ask questions
- common enemies
- how to connect: shift the goal from “making a sale” to “making a connection with the other person”
- how to connect
- know about their business
- know what’s important to them
- know who is important to them
- know how and where they make their money
- demonstrate that you honestly care about their business
- the simple business model; identify these elements in the client’s business
- the offering
- the passion
- the profit
- Bobby Knight, “Anyone can have the will to win, you have to prepare to win.”
Final comments: John Pietro relates a story about a successful pitch to the Wynn Group on behalf of his client, Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola had been the vendor for the Wynn casinos for many years but they decided to put the contract up for bid with Pepsi-Cola. As John and his client prepared for the final pitch to the group, word came through the grapevine that Wynn’s CFO and another lead decision maker had been informed by Pepsi that they could bid the contract much lower than Coca-Cola which likely made the decision a lock. Not ready to give up, and knowing that Coca-Cola HQ in Atlanta wasn’t willing to budge on their bid price and was confident they’d still win, John and the Coca-Cola VP got to work on a new strategy.
The Coca-Cola VP was good friends with Steve Wynn and his wife and had supported them in various local charity endeavors. They also knew that Steve was a great art lover and was particularly fond of “La Reve” by Picasso, which Steve had recently acquired for his collection at great cost. They decided to produce a special Coca-Cola bottle with the painting reproduced on the label of the bottle, laid inside a velvet case in a specialty wooden box.
After making their pitch covering dollars and cents, product offerings, etc. over a period of several hours, and knowing they were 2nd to present on the final day and Steve Wynn was completely zoned out and bored with the whole process, they finished their presentation by having the Coca-Cola VP walk over to Steve and offer him the box, informing him that he was extremely grateful for their personal and business relationship.
Steve Wynn opened the box, pulled out the bottle and began to tear up as he admired it. On the spot, he announced, “Coca-Cola has won our business.” And like that, the decision was made.
Or so the story goes, but it’s an interesting idea of the principles of the pitch in action to the extent that it is true. It’s also a great example of developing a competitive advantage by some means other than price.