Marketing agency consultant Robb High claims that firms often show "too much stuff" in new business presentations. He focused on this in his 13th email today which highlighted pitch mistakes.
I agree that this is a real industry problem. In fact, a note to Rob: It probably deserves to make the top-5 list.
No one ever wants to lose a piece of new business by offering too few ideas, or too little information. So, all too often, a team will present everything under the sun in the hopes that the prospect will find at least a couple of nuggets of interest. But, what really happens is that the prospect is presented with information overload and the team almost always takes up way too much time monopolizing the meeting (versus letting the prospect speak and a natural dialogue taking place). In the end, when this happens it almost always results in a lost business opportunity because the flow of the meeting runs counter to anything positive that the prospect is looking for.
I know about this. Unfortunately, I've lived (and died) through a number of these presentation debacles. I remember one especially painful instance a few years back when our team had far too many ideas within a Power Point presentation. The problem was that our team leader never organized any time for us to properly rehearse and understand whether the pitch was entirely too long. Making matters worse, the prospect told us we had a hard stop at 90 minutes. He also wanted his team to have at least 20 minutes at the end to ask questions (so, we actually had 70 minutes to present). Of course, since we didn't know how long our ideas would take, it wasn’t all that surprising (looking back) that we were still only 80 percent through the pitch when that 90 minute mark reared its ugly head. I'll never forget that embarrassing moment when the prospect literally interrupted me in mid sentence by saying, "Sorry Ed. But, time is up and we need to abide by the same rules for all agencies in the pitch. Thanks again for flying three hours out here to pitch our business though.”
We lost. And, we lost badly. It was incredibly frustrating.
Believe it or not, that pitch had a silver lining. It actually made us completely reassess (and change) every facet involving new business presentations. And, we took a deep look at how much content should be delivered to any prospect (regardless of how long the meeting is). Now, our teams will always rehearse presentations numerous times, usually chopping away ideas and capabilities that can just as easily be handed out as leave-behinds later on. The critical end goal is to make sure that the presentation always flows well.
Our consultant Darryl Salerno helped us even more over the past year. Now, we rehearse as if we only have 10-15 minutes to present capabilities and ideas to the prospect. I know that might seem a tad unrealistic (although, it did happen to us on one mega Peppercom pitch). More importantly, it truly brings a wonderful sense of calm to the team because it allows for each member to laser focus on only those one or two major (and critical) points that the client HAS to hear for us to win. Once we know that those points can be articulated well, team confidence is sky high because everyone feels assured that their part will flow well and should be compelling.
And, wouldn’t you know it. We recently won a seven figure Fortune 500 account using this methodology.