Pitching above and beyond

Pitching above and beyond

Winning a pitch starts with good qualifications, but that's not where it ends or where the win comes from.

Good qualification only gets you in the room. It ensures you're teeing yourself up for success and derisking the effort, energy, and investment you're about to expend.

Traditional methods like BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, Timeline) and MEDDIC (Metrics, Economic buyer, Decision criteria, Decision process, Identify pain, Champion) are good, but my recommendation is to take the bits you like and make that your own.

But while these frameworks ensure you are targeting the right opportunities, additional, often overlooked factors can significantly influence the outcome of a sales pitch.

These are differentiating factors that not only mean you've ticked the process boxes but also that you've covered the emotive human angles.

So here are some essential tips and considerations to help you win your next sales pitch, all of which centre around relationships.

Obvious right? But how much do you really invest in this?

Be honest.

A strong relationship with the prospect can be the difference between winning and losing a pitch.

This relationship needs to go beyond the transactional. It's crucial to understand the client's business, industry, and pain points deeply. Engage in regular, meaningful conversations and show genuine interest in their success.

This builds trust and positions you as a partner rather than just a vendor.

So ask yourself, what are you doing to build a deeper relationship with the people - yes people - not prospects - that you're looking to do business with?

Utilising back channels

Having a back channel into the prospect can provide invaluable insights that aren't available through formal communication channels.

This can include informal conversations with contacts who are not directly involved in the decision-making process but can offer inside information about the client's needs and preferences.

However, the important part about the back channel, besides the obvious information exchange, is the mode switch in the type of communication or channel you use.

If you can get a prospect to use WhatsApp rather than email, you can have a different kind of conversation there. The tone changes, and you can start to understand how they talk and their personality comes through. And you can develop a relationship much more rapidly like that than you can over formal email and the odd call.

Laddering relationships

One often-forgotten component of sales is the need to ladder the relationship.

By taking note of the seniority layers on the prospect side, you can people-mark inline with it.

It ensures that you have relationships at various seniority levels within the prospect organisation. Meaning you navigate internal dynamics and influence multiple stakeholders. Senior executives might have different priorities compared to mid-level managers, and understanding these can help you tailor your pitch accordingly.

So how does that look?

If the CMO is the most senior person on their team, get your Founder/CEO to mark them.

If they have a Marketing Director, too, get your Strategy Director to mark them.

If they have a Marketing Manager, get your Account Director to mark them.

If they have a Marketing Exec, get your Project Manager to mark them.

Try and get the roles and responsibilities to match up and use that one-to-one approach to build strong relationships at each layer of seniority.

Progressive disclosure

How many times have I seen the big reveal fail? Lots.

There's nothing wrong with wanting to keep your big idea back for the big pitch.

However, the problem with pitching is that the brief never includes enough information, and humans rarely know what they want unless they see it.

So, revealing information progressively through a pitch process keeps the prospect engaged throughout the sales process. Rather than presenting all your thinking in one go, stagger the release of information.

This strategy maintains client interest and allows you to address concerns or objections as they arise, adapting your pitch dynamically.

It also conditions the prospect to think, "Wow, what are they going to show us next time we meet?" building excitement around the process.

But it also poses a brilliant opportunity to test and learn each time you put something in front of them. Which is invaluable insight your competition likely won't be getting.

Price conditioning

If you've read any of my thoughts, you know how much I love price conditioning.

It's all about 'setting and getting' expectations around the budget with your prospect.

Even if they're not giving a budget, you can quantify it and ensure that your pricing aligns with their expectations and perceived value.

If you need more on that, you can do a deeper dive

Exceeding expectations

It's so easy to fall into the trap and answer the brief.

To stand out, especially in today's tough market, we need to be better and go bigger.

Not only exceeding expectations but blowing their minds.

But this isn't just about doing loads of work. It's about being smart about your thinking and really getting into the topic. And I mean really getting into it. Really show you give a shit about their business and you're into it.

Go that extra mile. Pitch that extra bit of thinking. Do that bit of research you're on the fence about.

Find ways to live the brand and be a customer. Buy their product and walk in the customer's shoes.

Find ways to offer additional value that wasn't part of the original brief or demonstrate how your solution can solve problems they hadn't considered.

Going the extra mile shows you are committed to their success and can deliver more than just the basics.

Showcasing your team

Finally, it's important to showcase your team effectively. Prospects are not just buying a product or service or the Founder but investing in the people behind it.

Put the people behind the work in front of it and highlight your team's expertise, experience, and enthusiasm.

Plus personal connections and demonstrating a cohesive, competent team that clicks with the prospect's team will significantly enhance your pitch's impact.

Let's wrap this up.

Let's be honest. Winning a sales pitch is as much about the subtleties of relationship management, understanding client dynamics, and effective communication as it is about the quality of your solution.

Focusing on these often overlooked factors can significantly improve your chances of securing the deal. Build strong, multi-level relationships, handle objections with finesse, and always aim to exceed expectations.

These strategies and proper qualifications will set you apart from the competition and increase your success rate in sales pitches.

Good luck out there, and make the most of every sales opportunity you have.

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