Selling the dream
Balancing realism and optimism in a pitch
In a recent CRO pitch with Columba agencies, a mid-sized (£7m+ turnover) client opted for the agency who promised conservative estimates of the conversion uplift the client could realistically expect. “So what?”, you might be thinking, “This is what agencies are supposed to do!”.
True, but striking the balance between realism and a compelling pitch can be difficult. The main difference between this agency and the others in the pitch was their transparency. That is, they based their predictions on a step by step process that they’ve employed for other clients in the same industry, leaving nothing to the client’s imagination.
When the sceptical Managing Director asked “why?”, they explained in detail, linking back to the same commercial strategy they had coaxed out of the client earlier in the pitch. Similarly, when faced with curve-ball questions like “how can you sell this if you can’t guarantee results?”, they chose to stand by their offering – one that they believed in based on past experience and real data.
In fact, they based their entire pitch on the worst case scenario, rather than what ought to happen in an ideal world. They’d accounted for bad luck and uncertainty, then built this uncertainty into their pitch. It’s not to say that this is always the best way to go about a pitch, but in difficult times like now it’s important to acknowledge that you recognise and understand the risks that exist around the campaign you’re pitching.
A Tick List For Agency Pitching In a Crisis
1. Account for the worst case scenario:
Brands are cautious but willing to part with cash, tackle their worries head on.
2. Start with why:
Clients don’t always know what they want, but they’ll know when they don’t get it. Avoid this by building your pitch around their actual needs, not what they think they’ve told you they want
3. Invest in the details:
Most pitches don’t need to dive into the specifics, but if you don’t have the details to hand when they ask, it won’t go down well.
4. Make the pitch easy to buy:
Marketing managers are navigating testing times, they want you to take their pain away and they want buy-in from their direct reports. Make it easy for the C-suite to buy what you’re selling.
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