How Agencies Can Win Without Pitching

The agency world is seen as very fast-paced, very creative, very innovative and very forward-thinking but, as you will hear in this deep-dive conversation between Katie Street and Blair Enns, the same can’t be said for how marketers sell their services.

The infamous world of intricate, costly and time-sapping pitching for business has long been the way that the industry ‘sells’ itself, but have you ever stopped to think why? More importantly, when was the last time you stepped back to assess that there could be a better way to create sales for your business.

Blair Enns – CEO of Win Without Pitching – is the world renowned author of ‘The Win Without Pitching Manifesto’ and ‘Pricing Creativity: A Guide to Profit Beyond the Billable Hour’. As one of the industry’s leading thought-leaders on agency sales Blair has taken his contrarian views on how selling works and turned that into a methodology that can lead to agencies focusing on taking back the power within a pitch and, ultimately, helps teams to secure more profitable client relationships.

This episode covers:

  • Why environment is so important to be able to do what you do
  • Asking for concessions in the sale
  • How to leverage agency sales rules in your favour
  • How essential it is to be seen as ‘meaningfully different’
  • Why 10% price increases don’t always add to increased profits
  • Why standardising and systemizing prices across agencies is a mistake
  • Understanding that productised and customised agency business models need to grow apart

Word on the Street is sponsored by, the default Business Development and Marketing Automation platform for agencies and their clients. To learn more about Kulea’s Business development and marketing services and technology, visit

Links & references

Katie Street:

Blair Ennis:

Grab a copy of Blair’s brilliant book:

Get in touch: [email protected]

Episode Highlight

I couldn’t do what I do, with the point of view that I have if i lived in New York or London – Blair Enns [12:10]

How you can stop getting into that battle is by talking directly – that value exchange piece – to the needs of the customer – Katie Street [13:50]

Creativity isn’t the ability to write or draw, creative is the ability to be able to see – Blair Enns [15:30]

If you’re not meaningfully different you have little power in the sale – Blair Enns [17:10]

We’re all still pitching like ad agencies used to in the 70’s – Katie Street [20:15]

Clients need to be ‘educated’ in how to engage with agencies to get the best out of them, because I don’t think the pitch environment necessarily showcases the truth of an agency – Katie Street [21:10]

Business development is just code for selling, let’s call it what it is – Blair Enns [23:10]

Highly creative people love to pitch – Blair Enns [24:10]

You reclaim the power in the agency relationship through the positioning of your firm – Blair Enns [31:15]

If you’re the hot ‘shop’ of the day, you have power in that moment but you have to understand that power is not going to last – Blair Enns [31:50]

As soon as you ask for a small concession, and you get that granted to you, your odds of winning go to better than 1 in 2 – Blair Enns  [33:45]

They let our Technical Director go and sit in with their team for the day, none of the other agencies asked for that, so we had an advantage – Katie Street [36:30]

It’s actually quite easy to increase your prices, the average firm can double profit pretty easily, with only a 10% increase in pricing across the board – Blair Enns [38:35]

All agencies aspire to change, but there is a fear around changing the model – Katie Street [44:45]

For you to be more innovative, for you to be paid on that value creation, you need to embrace the messiness – Blair Enns [47:15]

The trend is clearly towards standardising and systemising proposals and even prices and that’s a mistake – Blair Enns [49:45]

They’re taking too many of their cues for how to run their businesses, including pricing, from productised service businesses – Blair Enns [52:45]