Let's start by telling you how great I am. Nah, let's not.
When I first started working for myself, I was delighted at the freedom. Not the freedom to do as I please--I clock as many, if not more, hours on my own than when I worked for others--but the freedom to stop following certain practices I found sorta silly. One of the silliest? The new business pitch.
To be sure, I love new business, and new challenges. But I don't love pitches. There's nothing "new" to a pitch, which is odd since we're pitching "new" business (I also don't understand "cold calls" since hot leads are what I seek).
See, in new biz meetings, it usually starts with the "tell me about yourself/your business" question. It's a fair question and, many would argue, a darn good place to start. Problem is, the top of the discussion sets the vibe for the entire meeting. Having sat through enough pitches when I was a marketing director tasked with hiring consultants, I didn't like being pitched to...so I sure don't like to be the one delivering them.
For me, a pitch is a one-way delivery of our experiences, our greats and what we can do...but a discussion is what we can do for them (or what we can do together, actually).
What I like most about working from project-to-project is that no client, strategy, program or quarter is ever the same as the one before (or after). So it seems new business meetings shouldn't be the "same" either. And if I'm armed with a PPT presentation then it's gonna be a repeat. While I have plenty of new business materials, prospects can view those before or after we meet. But during new business meetings those materials would serve as a distraction from the value I'm intent on delivering.
For several years now, when I start a new business meeting I explain the entire reason for retaining me should be based only on the amount of value I can bring to the project. Marketing is, after all, about value creation. So the meeting alone should impart value being they've given me the value of their time. It also shifts the meeting from a passive format into action mode.
Instead of answering the "tell me about yourself question" to kick-off the meeting, I ask that they start by specifying the objectives they have and the problems they need solved (trust me, everyone has objectives and problems). And then I map their specific goals to my relevant successes and experiences. As for the problems they need solved, or opportunities I spot? I give plenty of recommendations for them to consider. Basically, value can be categorized into (a) meeting objectives, (b) solving problems and (c) identifying opportunities.
I also like scribbling recommendations and ideas on whiteboards--it's not as pretty as a power point slide but when I ask if I should erase it at the close of a meeting they always ask me to leave it. I've also begun ending meetings by recounting the points of value uncovered during the meeting itself, just to hit the point home (and so I feel the meeting went well).
All told, it's more of a real-time workshop format than a pitch--and it allows us to really show our greats not just tell people how really great we are. It also holds greater value (and value is the whole point). Plus, chances are greater they'll wind-up retaining me and/or referring me to others.
Whether you're on the consulting side or work for an agency, what are some gems you've found work well in landing new business? Or, if you're on the client side, what type of new business meetings
do you prefer give you the most value?