BY Nicky Denegri

DATE: 28 MAR 2014


I’ve just read Russell’s blog this week about “Pitching, not Putting” and it took me back in the swirling mists of time, to when I was on the other side of the fence as a buyer of training services watching and listening to pitches.  I’ve sat on panels where numerous hopeful providers would come and pitch their wares and more times than I’d have liked it to be this way, I’ve thought, “Oh my goodness.  This is dire.”  Why?  Well they all undoubtedly had experience and knowledge, but the way they behaved often left a lot to be desired (in fact they really could have done with Russell’s assistance).  So here’s a list of some hints and tips on what not to do to convince the people buying the services that you’re right for the job:       

  • Try not to look as if you hate each other.  When one of your fellow pitch team is talking, pay attention to them.  Look at them – and look interested, not hostile.  Nod.  Smile.  Make appreciative noises (within reason – we don’t want to startle the horses).  One provider lost a pitch I was judging by glaring moodily in the opposite direction, arms folded, occasionally sighing loudly and, startlingly, tutting, whenever their colleague spoke.  Not good.        
  • Try not to look as if the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.   Agree in advance who’ll take questions depending on the particular point under discussion.  Practise handing over to each other, bringing each other into the conversation and generally acknowledging each other’s expertise.  You don’t want to be in a situation where all the pitch team start talking simultaneously and then have to get into a “You go.”  “No, you go.  I insist.” scenario.  The flip side of that is when nobody speaks (cue tumbleweed), pained glances are exchanged and then one brave soul ventures forth like an inexperienced tightrope walker attempting to cross Niagara Falls without a net.        
  • Try not to fall out in front of the pitch panel.  Yes, it happens.  You may feel you have all the time in the world to squabble amongst yourselves; go right ahead but remember you’ll already have lost the game.  Memorable?  Yes.  For the right reasons?  No.  On one memorable occasion a pitch team fell out in front out of the panel I was on by debating a point of order for several minutes: “No, that’s just not right.”  “Yes it is!  I told you this last week!” etc etc.  What had been going reasonably well until that point took on the air of a Keystone Cops farce.  Nul points were awarded.  They lost the pitch.  Well, they do say life’s a pitch.        
  • Try not to lie.  It’s all too tempting to promise the world with regard to what you can and can’t do.  It’s done with the best of intentions.  You’ve worked hard to build the relationship.  You’ve invested a considerable amount of time and effort in preparing for the pitch.  You really, really, really want this work.  However, honesty is always the best policy.  Stick to your knitting, as we say, ie be upfront about what you can and can’t do.  Your pitch panel will respect you for it, and it will build trust quickly.        
  • Try not to dismiss out of hand the reasons for not giving you the job.  You weren’t successful this time.  Ok. That hurts.  However, things change – you could still be in the frame for the job in a year’s time, for example.  Really listen to the feedback that’s offered (or if none is forthcoming, ask for it) and plan what you’ll do differently next time around.  Don’t – as happened to me, when I called one provider to explain that they hadn’t been successful this time – grunt (yes, literally) and refuse the offer of the detailed feedback that had been prepared by the panel.  Try and stay open to the feedback, stay resilient, keep the relationship alive and next time around….it could be you.


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about the author

Nicky Denegri is our Senior Consultant. If you would like to know more about this subject, drop her an email and we will be in touch.

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