Sunday 24 September 2017

Firms have to be pitch perfect to succeed in the post-insolvency era

The right moves

It's worthwhile standing out and demonstrating some IT skills
It's worthwhile standing out and demonstrating some IT skills

Paul McNeive

The further we move out of the "insolvency era," the more important it becomes for firms to sharpen up how they "pitch" for business.

For several years, most of the work was being awarded by Nama and banks. This saw most tenders or pitches, necessarily structured in a prescriptive style.

Many professionals would have described these as "box-ticking" exercises - with most emphasis attached to the fee quoted.

Now we are in a new era. Most property is back in private ownership and swathes of work are being awarded to property professionals following competitive pitches. Those firms which underperform at pitching can no longer hide behind the excuse that "it's all about fees," or "they must have known someone," every time they lose a job.

As a first step, it's important to establish - how are we doing now? Estimate how much work is being awarded in your market through competitive pitches.

It's probably more than you think.

Then estimate your success rate at pitches and track your success rate, because what isn't measured, is unlikely to improve. That will require someone with experience.

Whilst it's easy to track invitations to pitch that are addressed to the managing director, there will be lots of pitching going on at departmental level, and you will tend to hear about the wins, rather than the losses.

There are basic systems to set-up, for example, who is monitoring the government and EU tender sites?

Every senior person's e-mail should be checked when they are out of the office. It's a real "own goal" to waste the first two weeks of a pitching process because the person it was e-mailed to was on holiday.

The mindset of your team preparing and making the pitch is important. If you have just lost two or three pitches in a row, then don't send the same team out for the next one- you'll probably lose that too.

Not only is the way you prepare your pitches probably flawed, but your team's lack of confidence will come through in their approach.

Conversely, a team that has just won three pitches, is odds on to win the next one too.

Copy their winning formula: success breed success.

The key to success is to set yourself apart from the competition and make it impossible for the client not to select you. And the way to do that is to come across as the most enthusiastic, dynamic and friendly team in the race, which is all about your "emotional intelligence" rather than your I.Q. Don't make the mistake of labouring over your technical ability to do the job-you wouldn't have been invited to pitch if the client didn't believe that.

If the pitch is a written process, and you don't know the clients personally, you have a poor chance of winning, so you must get to meet them. Most letters inviting you to pitch, finish with the line "Please contact me if you require clarification". Always take that golden opportunity to query something and meet the client. They'll often tell you lots of things that they would like to see in the winning pitch, and it's a chance to establish a friendly connection. Don't forget that clients awarding contracts may be working alongside the winners for years. They won't give the job to someone they don't like.

Look for ways to stand out; developers love it when you bring "added value"- what can you bring as an extra, that others don't think about?

When a tech company coming to Ireland invites you to pitch for their work, could you acknowledge it by e-mailing them a friendly video of your team, walking through a prospective building, saying how much you are looking forward to meeting them?

You're standing out and demonstrating some IT skills.

Like everything, your success rate will depend on how much preparation you put in and you should have a winning template to follow in preparing your pitch. Hopefully, after the written pitch, comes the crucial presentation - "the beauty parade," and I'll discuss that in coming weeks.

info@paulmcneive.com

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