“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”
1. BEGINNING WITH THE END IN MIND
Your strategy is your objective for the pitch and the tactics and specific actions you employ to achieve that objective. A great way to get the objective clear is to imagine the pitch is over and you have won. If, at the company’s next board meeting, the selection committee were asked to succinctly explain why they selected you, what would they say? We call this The “Board Room” Statement. For example, your Boardroom Statement might be: “We selected them because they had good ideas and enough experience to do the job, but more so, a level of enthusiasm and desire to work with us that none of their competitors could match.”
Other elements that could come into your pitch objective include:
- Superior products or services
- More reliable performance
- A stronger marketplace reputation
- Better chemistry with the key stakeholders
- Better empathy for the business problems and issues
- A better value price / solution combination
2. GETTING A DOSE OF REALITY
What is the gap, from the client’s perspective, between what we want to prove to them (our objective) and our capacity to achieve it? To answer this we need to conduct a SWOT analysis with a twist. Before you start, ask your team to step out of their shoes and step into the shoes of your client:
- How do they see your strengths and weaknesses as a potential vendor to them?
- What opportunities and threats do they see when contemplating a relationship with you?
Use the results of this analysis to develop actions to build on your perceived strengths, resolve any weaknesses, exploit the opportunities and avoid any threats. Focus on what is important to the client rather than what you perceive to be so.
3. GETTING YOUR ACT TOGETHER
Create a secure strategy room. It is valuable to have a secure and accessible environment to display critical information and facilitate information sharing and idea generation. The strategy room elevates the value and importance of the pitch amongst the team and organisation.
Appoint a team leader to coordinate and motivate the pitch team. The team should include individuals with both creative and technical capabilities. You will also need individuals who can engage the members of the client’s team. This is critical in building rapport, developing chemistry and collecting valuable information.
Map and keep track of all action steps to be taken throughout the pitch. Because so many of the tasks you undertake are reliant on other tasks (e.g. you can’t plan the document until you have clarified issues which requires a client meeting) having a comprehensive critical path in place and monitoring it diligently, is vital to your success.
Information that you gather and put onto the walls in the strategy room should include:
- Our strengths (from the client’s perspective)
- Competitor analysis
- Profiles on decision makers, what makes them tick and how the decision will be made
- Evidence and examples needed to support your value proposition
4. GETTING THE VIBE
Developing a theme for your document and presentation can have a dramatic impact on your capacity to differentiate you from your competitors. Tying together your rational solutions with a uniquely appealing, emotionally driven theme will capture their imaginations and demonstrate your competence and unique understanding of their issues.
5. GETTING AMONGST IT
The final step in the strategy development process is to get your message out there. Every meeting you go to, every phone conversation you have is an opportunity to plant some seeds with the client. Don’t wait for the document or formal presentation to start showing them what you have to offer.
In the next issue we will look at how to convert your strategy into a winning pitch document.
Paul Laurendet & Geoff Mulray are the founding partners of Technique Group, a business development consultancy that works with blue chip Australian organisations to enhance sales strategy, systems, structure and skills. Find out more at www.techniquegroup.com