Leadership

Pitch perfect: Seven tips for crafting a memorable business proposal

Michelle Gamble /

So your marketing has been successful and you’ve been invited to the table to present a proposal for your services along with some big competitors.  It’s time to put your best foot forward.

I was in this very position last week when I got the opportunity to pitch for an account against some big names in the industry.

So often I hear of companies who don’t like to present in a competitive situation, and if they do, they’ll do the minimum amount of work. Being invited to pitch is a privilege, not a curse, so make the most of the opportunity to close the gap between you and your competitors.

1. Spend a lot of time researching the requirements

Have a thorough read of the brief or RFP (request for proposal). This should pose some questions and perhaps give further ideas beyond what they’ve asked you to present.

Write down a thorough list of all the questions and ideas that arise.

2. Arrange a meeting

Don’t just wait for pitch day to meet your prospective buyer. Arrange a meeting with your potential new client and find out:

  • What are they expecting to see on the day (key critical components of the presentation)?
  • Who you will be presenting to? What is their role in the decision making process?
  • How much time will you be allocated for your presentation?
  • How many other companies have been asked to present and, ideally, who are they?
  • Why are they asking for proposals?
  • How open are they to new ideas or suggestions beyond the scope of the requirements included in the RFP or pitch brief?

3. Gather your team

Many heads are better than one – no time is this truer than when preparing for your pitch. Well in advance of pitch day, make sure that you’ve brainstormed the overall idea and key components of your presentation.

Also ensure that key members of your team, who are likely to fulfill any parts of the project, are invited along to be part of the pitch. It’s common for companies to wheel in their senior team to win the deal and then leave the fulfillment to other junior staff stuck back in the office. Make sure your potential client gets to meet and hear from the people they are likely to work with.

4. Make it look stunning

Now is the time to pull out the big guns in the visual style stakes.  Get a professional designer involved to work on your presentation and proposal document.

The content is important and how it’s presented visually can add more punch and impact to your pitch as well as leave your potential client with a positive perception about how polished and professional you are.

5. Rehearse

This is not the time to ad lib. Your presentation will flow much better if you have scripted and rehearsed it prior. You don’t need to read directly off notes, but having a general idea of what you are going to say, how long it takes to say it and how you might hand across to other members of your team as part of the process.

6. Take handouts

Don’t be afraid to leave a professionally printed and bound copy of your presentation.  It shows generosity and trust and gives your recipients the opportunity to discuss your presentation with your ideas in front of them.

7. Take your time

Start working on your presentation early. Rush it and you won’t have time to review, edit and perfect it. You’re also less likely to pick up any mistakes.

Ultimately, good preparation and effort will equal results. Your presentation should leave people with a positive impression of your brand. Your pitch is not only an opportunity to land a big deal but to generate positive perceptions of your organisation and the quality of your work.

I don’t yet know if we won the opportunity to work with our potential client as a result of our presentation, but do I think we put our absolute best foot forward? 

You bet.

Since starting her outsourced national marketing consultancy Marketing Angels in 2000, Michelle has helped hundreds of SMEs get smarter marketing. Michelle helps businesses find more effective ways to grow their brands and businesses.

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Michelle Gamble

Since starting her outsourced national marketing consultancy Marketing Angels in 2000, Michelle Gamble has helped hundreds of SMEs get smarter marketing. Michelle helps businesses find more effective ways to grow their brands and businesses.

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