Growth is the most important measure of business health. It indicates your trajectory. Which is the best predictor of future success. If you are not talking growth you are talking shrinkage. And no one wants to be measuring shrinkage.
The fastest path to growth comes through pitching and winning new business. Which brings us to the much debated issue of who to send to the pitch. Your organization’s A-Team (the smartest, most likable, best looking, best sales people, best presenters – you know, basically everyone who reads this blog) are also the busiest and least available. Pitching with these people is often misleading since they are already saturated with commitments and won’t have capacity to take on the business in question. But can you afford to send the B-Team when there is growth and reputation at stake?
At the Perfect Agency Project we believe the answer to this question comes from the other side of the table. The prospective client should get to decide who they want to meet. Of course they want to know who will be working on their business. But they also want to know how good and smart and trustworthy your leadership team is. Even if they will see them far less. The key is balance and honesty.
My neighbor Elise Demboski, VP Creative Services at Mohawk Industries shared that one of her great frustrations is that they often really like the person who is pitching the business and acts like they would be involved in their projects and then they disappear once the work starts.
So Elise offered this simple rule:
Whoever does most of the talking at the initial meeting needs to work with us the whole time. -Elise Demboski
We love this standard and have added it to our playbook. It gives agencies the ability to send some of their very best representatives, the A-Pluses, but in a supporting role. You can’t be the ring leader or mouthpiece if you’re not going to be in the trenches with the client every day.
But take this a step further. To be a sustainably successful agency you must continue to scale your team with talent that is fully capable of pitching, winning and running great pieces of business. If you continue to pitch with the A’s and hand off to the B’s and C’s then you’ve become a B and C organization that over-promises and under-delivers. Don’t be that company. Be A’s. Hire A’s. Grow like A’s. Help your clients becomes A’s and you will find yourself not having to pitch business. You will be sought after. Which, unless you are in the witness protection program, is the ultimate goal.
2 thoughts on “Who should go to the pitch?”
We just had a review and several agencies pitched. It was interesting to see who came. One agency brought 15 people and all had a minor role in the pitch except one who was the “MC.” One brought all Sr people who would obviously not be working day-to-day with us. Another brought a small team but only one person talked.
Ultimately it was a well articulated and creative approach to the challenge we laid out for these potential partners that won the day.
We probably would’ve overlooked the concern with a “too senior” pitch team, if their work would’ve resonated with us. However because the work didn’t connect, the professional pitch team helped serve a an eliminator.
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Thanks for the insight Jon! I’m curious if you questioned the senior team about their continued involvement on your brand after the pitch.