Rather than thinking of making a pitch as the first date – full of opportunities for things to go wrong – think of it as your second date.
You will have already appealed to the client in some way in order to have gained the opportunity to pitch, so you are allowed to feel quite positive.
Don’t forget that you are pitching because you have something that they want. It is all too easy to think that the client holds all the cards and that your future is in their hands, but it is important to remember that you will be offering a particular product, service or skill that they don’t currently have and that they require.
If you remember this, you should be able to maintain a confident although not cocky attitude. Nobody wants to work with some sap that looks so desperate to win the contract that they’ll do absolutely anything to please you. Look like you want the work, certainly, but that you have other clients, other projects and other opportunities. This will make you and your offer far more desirable and more likely to win the pitch.
Just as you need to know what to do to win the pitch, you need to know what to avoid. So looking desperate is the first thing. Here are a few more tips.
Don’t Make Unsuitable Jokes
This is a tricky one because it can often be a shared sense of humour that helps build the strongest of relationships, even between clients. The best rule to remember is that you should avoid any jokes that could even slightly be deemed offensive – there really is no need because there are plenty of jokes and humorous ways to show your character without resorting to cheap gags.
Don’t Dress Inappropriately
While you don’t have to go suited and booted to a pitch – especially if you are in a creative field – you don’t want to rock up looking like you’ve just got out of bed and couldn’t care less. Be respectful. Be clean and well presented, with clothing and accessories that are suited to your profession and the company that you are pitching to.
Don’t Be Late
OK, this is a pretty obvious one, but you’d be surprised how often it happens. Don’t just leave enough time to get there – there will always be a delay on the tube or some problem on the road on that day. You also don’t want to arrive all flustered and apologetic – this is not a good way to start a pitch as you are already on the back foot. Why not arrive in plenty of time and go for a coffee before hand to collect your thoughts? Just don’t go to some greasy spoon or smoky place or you’ll smell awful when you meet the client – not very professional.
Before you go into the pitch, have a moment to go to the toilet, check your hair and that you don’t have spinach in your teeth. Have a peppermint and wash your hands so you don’t get ‘sticky hand shake’ issues.
Regarding the actual pitch, make sure you know it inside out. Be able to answer questions and be clear about the features and benefits of what you are offering. If you know your presentation well you will be able to work on your delivery – be relaxed, personable and easy to talk to.