Choosing the right partner

Step 4 Pitch

A pitch offers the ideal opportunity to assess personal chemistry with the team account handlers which will be vitally important to a successful working relationship. Some Brussels firms have relationships with their clients going back over 20 years which all started with a simple meeting of two people who liked each other. Body language in a pitch can tell you how a person is feeling – and how they’re feeling about what you’re talking about. It can tell you if they’re not confident about their pitch and whether they can deliver on what they are promising, or if their friendliness is sincere or just an act.

Each firm should normally present their proposal using PowerPoint in a relatively brief part of the overall allotted time, explain who they are, why you should choose them. They should explain why they want your business as their degree of motivation is a key factor in deciding your preferred partner.

How the team presents itself on the day is important but even more important is the interaction with your and their team. The quality of the questions you ask will help determine the quality of the answers you get back. You should prepare some key questions ahead of the presentation. Some useful questions to consider in a pitch situation could include:

  • How is your approach different from that of other firms?
  • Tell me about similar projects you personally have worked on.
  • Tell me about some of your successes. What is it about you that enabled you to be successful?
  • Who will manage the project? How much time will the lead person spend on the project?
  • Who else will be working on this project? What are their qualifications and experiences?
  • What are your strengths as a consultant?
  • What are your limitations? What would your detractors say about you?
  • Whom else have you done similar work for? What results did you achieve?
  • If I called them, what would they say about you?

After most pitches you will have a clear view on the winner which will be a combination of gut feeling and a rational list of reasons. In some instances, there might be a tie or even the need for the best one or two agencies to meet with a higher authority. Although in some instances it may make sense to convey immediately to the winning agency that they are the preferred partner, it is usually advisable to at least sleep on the decision. Ranking who is the Best of the Best in writing is useful to do immediately after the pitch, as a reference that you can consult later.

For the unsuccessful firms, it is only fair and reasonable after they invested so much time and money in your process that you take the time to give them proper feedback on why they were not selected, so if nothing else they can learn from the experience and do better next time.