Is getting in the door and developing the new business lead important? “Absolutely!” However, if your follow through is lacking, all that development work and investment just goes down the drain accompanied by increasing agency new business strain. Critical to achieving new business success is a great pitch strategy, a pitch czar, a well articulated deck and a well rehearsed team! Without all of these, it does not matter how creative your agency is!
The agency pitch environment is incredibly frenetic, fraught with individual agendas and distracted by the pressures of ongoing client responsibilities and work. It is not unusual for an agency to assign pitch leadership responsibility to a senior account person, who by the way is already inundated with existing client work.
As you have probably found out already through experience, this simply does not work. If you are serious about new business and the need to win, you have to allocate the right resources. It goes without saying that you need the “team to win” versus “the team available, however without the following two people, your chances of success are slim.
The Pitch Czar:
It is imperative that you appoint a pitch leader that has both the responsibility and authority to lead the pitch. This person is responsible for:
- Making all the hard decisions, their word is the last word on everything.
- The pitch strategy.
- Making sure that the pitch work addresses the brief.
- Introducing as required external resources and partners.
- Keeping in touch with the client/consultant, and constantly building the pre pitch relationship.
- Keeping the team on track, on budget and on time.
- Orchestrating the final presentation format, pitch logistics, leave behinds etc.
- Post pitch follow up.
Internal New Business Coordinator:
The Pitch Czar cannot achieve success on his/her own. They need the support of an internal new business coordinator. This individual is internally focused and ultimately responsible for the day to day management of the pitch and budget management. Their responsibilities include but are not limited to:
- Development and control of the pitch deck, including the quality of the final output.
- Keeping the pitch team on budget and delivering each step on time.
- Implementing the agreed pitch process and ensuring everyone adheres to it.
- Coordinating deliverables from outside resources, if any. (research etc)
- Food and drink for pitch team during late night sessions.
- Production of any leave behinds.
- Researching the pitch venue and layout and determining what is possible or needed from a presentation perspective.
- Equipment and technology required for the pitch.
- Back-up plan for a possible technology failure.
The simple truth is that assigning senior account people who are already overloaded with existing client work is not going to deliver the results you need. In fact it will only serve to distress your pitch closing ratio and ultimately demoralize the agency. In my consulting practice I see the same mistakes being made every day. On the other hand, I also see the benefits when it is done correctly.