How to deliver a winning online pitch
By Michaela Dudfield   4th March 2021
Reading Time: 5 minutes

For our second webinar of the year, and with us still being in lockdown, we decided to focus our discussion on ‘How to deliver a winning pitch online’. Our Founder Katie Street was joined by:

Katy Howell, CEO of social media agency immediate future 

Peter Hopwood, from Hopwood Speaker Coaching

Lucius de Paula, Head of UK Marketing and Communications at FG Private Bank Limited

What can agencies do to attract attention from brands?

Katie asked Lucius de Paula, Head of UK Marketing and Communications at FG Private Bank Limited to give his thoughts on how agencies can deliver and attract attention in a pitch from a brand’s perspective, his top tips were:

  • Explain why you’d be perfect to work with
  • Pick your best team
  • Pitches should be collaborative
  • Come to us with different ideas
  • Do digital hygiene, checking cameras, feedback, connection etc
  • Ask questions – this is the opportunity to build the relationship
  • Keep it simple
  • Cut to the chase
  • Don’t get disheartened

He also said it’s down to the brand to invest in the pitch to make it as constructive as possible and don’t say yes to every pitch – don’t pitch for the sake of pitching if it’s not right for you or the client walk away.

The traditional pitch process – is it broken?

Katie asked the panel is the pitch process broken? “A pitch is just the start of a relationship” she said, suggesting that agencies should think about how to stand out and do things differently.

From a brand point of view Lucius said, “you need to be clear at the start of the process about what you want out of the pitch process”. He suggested people need to be honest at the start about what they’re looking for. He also said if an agency’s pitch isn’t successful companies should make sure they give feedback to the agency, “they owe it to them”.

Lucius also made a great point in that brands should see it as a partnership “It should be a partnership rather than a supplier/buyer dynamic”. Katy said that pitches should be treated like a workshop, and to use it as a way of building the relationship but be careful not to go down a rabbit hole. Katie agreed “check in, are their priorities the same, especially now priorities might change if pitch is going over a few months, be ready to make that flex” 

How do you deal with ghosting?

Katie gave some advice when it comes to being ghosted after delivering a pitch, she suggested using the phrase ‘Have I lost you?’, as it plays into our core emotions using the word ‘lost’.

Katy spoke of something similar that Blair Enns, author of ‘win without pitching’ uses, “Closing the loop I haven’t heard back from you” to try and get an answer back. Lucius suggested rather than asking for help, ask them for their advice as often people are more willing to give advice.

Remember the pitch is just one element of the process

Peter Hopwood from Hopwood Speaker Coaching kicked off the next discussion point, “as an agency ask yourself ‘am I committed to this virtual pitch’, if you are investing your time, logistics, money into a ‘real world’ pitch then you can use it to your advantage online”. He said that you can see faces more clearly online and be more focused on what people are saying, “you have control of what people can see” use it to your advantage if you think it’ll help with the pitch process”.

“People see the pitch as their one moment to shine, but all the other moments, building the relationship, rapport, chemistry, quality of work are all as equally important” Peter said. Peter went on to mention Street’s ‘Meet the team’ social media posts as a great way of showing the team without them all needing to go to the pitch, so they get an insight into who the team are and what they are about.

Katy reminded the audience that a pitch isn’t a single event, there is a big build up to it, and she uses targeting messages so they keep being in the forefront of their mind throughout the process.

Be in control and more self-aware  

As a speaking coach, Peter said that the skills we are learning now presenting online will help us when we go back to the ‘real’ world, as we’ll make things more condense, clearer, and sharper.

Katie suggested bringing back the awareness back to yourself and said to the audience to record their pitches and watch themselves back to make improvements.

Peter said, “When going to pitch in someone else’s environment (in the ‘real’ world) you don’t have much control, but online you have that control, so you and your team and see, and feel and experience what others will see, feel and experience and you’re able to practice before you present”. Being aware of yourself and the things you could be doing to increase your chances of more engagement and connection is hugely important.

One thing that got the online chat buzzing, was talk of Peter’s ironing board! He advised that people should stand up in pitches as your voice sounds different and it acts as a signal that you have something to say and would like them to listen if you are standing. He then shared with the audience that he has an inexpensive ironing board that he places his laptop on rather than an expensive standing desk and it does just the trick!

Katie then shared some of the questions that had be submitted to the panel.

How do we address the procurement driven need to get 3 quotes?

Katie said it’s not something you can avoid, saying even when she needs work doing on her house, she gets two or three quotes to compare them and it’s the same in agency world. Lucius said “procurement don’t hold all the power, but will be able to determine why costs are different”.

Katy suggested asking who they are up against and don’t pitch if more than three agencies involve. She said if they don’t tell you, go on LinkedIn to see who they are connected with to see who you might be up against.

What do clients value more – quality of work and full fill the brief or being able to work with you on a personal level?

Lucius said when they did their recent pitch, their brief was they wanted to be different and so the ideas that the agencies came up with were so important. He suggested it has to be the idea first and if it’s achievable and the people delivering that idea is important, but they are going to go with the great idea every time (over people).

Anyone operate a win without pitching policy?

Katy suggested using your win without pitching strategy earlier, a lot earlier, “think of it like a process not policy, build your relationships well in advance to try and get it so they don’t take it to tender/pitch”.

Any tips on coordinating and multiple team members when pitching online?

Peter answered this question saying his big tip would be to rehearse, rehearse, rehearse! Practise to find out the flaws, what it looks like, checking internet connection etc, get the pitch in a place that it’s stage ready. Katie and Peter agreed that it’s always a good idea to get someone not involved in the pitch to watch it and give honest feedback.

It was a lively webinar with some fantastic tips on how to deliver a winning online pitch. If you weren’t able to make the webinar or you’d like to watch it back, here’s the video recording:

The New World of New Biz webinars take place on the first Tuesday of every month at 11am, you can sign up here for free to join the next one.

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