Category Archives: Pitching

The Ten Truths

This is a presentation and conversation that I have had with a number of clients across the years. I am dusting it off and bringing it back into the foreground for 2018. Some of the points are obvious yet the obvious gets overlooked in the  heat of battle.

Some of the points are provocative and provocation is sometime the only way to win.

Here is your link to the PDF

If you want to discuss any of the ideas here to turn the whole piece into a team game or seminar let me know and we can easily arrange to make it so.

Questions, often without warning

Q: “Sniper Control” How do we handle those questions or statements that come at anytime often without warning in our meeting?

1 Apply the advice in ‘Handling Q&A’ and ask the person a question back, for example “Before I answer, what is behind your question?”  Questions give you control.

2 Ensure you have accommodated all the political opinions in the room and if you think a question will arise that will stump you, ask a colleague for advice before you leave for the meeting.

Q: Presenting without PowerPoint, Can we?    A: Yes, especially with creative ideas. Perhaps you can demonstrate what it is you wish to sell or create the idea in front of the meeting on a flip chart? Better still get them to build alongside you – bring a pad of paper and marker pens to the meeting (No batteries, Windows updates or power cables are needed for these techniques)

Yes, but will they remember?

With some much of attention in presentation development being focused on impact and story telling and delivery skills building communication for memorability might be missed. Art Markman Professor of Psychology and Marketing at the University of Texas at Austin gives us some great advice in his HBR article Getting an Audience to Remember Your Presentation* Your presentation might be about getting people to recall later (explicit memory) what you said or encourage people learn a skill (enabled by procedural memory). Most of the time we want to influence the explicit memory.

A few things therefore to help people remember.1369847707_4085_memory

  1. Right sequence.  The first things said are best remembered, and those towards the end. So don’t bury the recommendation/central idea somewhere in the middle.
  1. Make connections. Making links between your key points increases the amount of information people can recall from what you presented: So, lots of verbal and graphic sign-posting please.
  1. Make ‘em work. Try things like letting  your audience to vote for alternatives, make bets on what might work best or encourage them to summarise the message for themselves. Lest they forget. These approaches will maximise your influence as well as your impact.


*Copyright©2015 Harvard Business School Publishing. All rights reserved. Harvard Business Publishing is an affiliate of Harvard Business School.

You aren’t using enough rituals.

A great piece via and by Eric Barker at TIME   This excellent article prompts thoughts about using rituals to win new business! © 2015 Time Inc. All rights reserved.

So, below are ideas for NB ritual questions/notes to self

BEFORE your meeting Objectives clearly established? Clear understanding of the Client’s agenda? Anticipation of likely push back from Client’s end?

DURING your meeting  Is the idea, proposal and conversation really tailored to the Client’s agenda? Was the story clear? Was the story persuasive? Were the questions well handled? Did the meeting finish with clear actions and next steps?

Another good ritual? Read all about emerging technologies sensibly applied at  Once a week the hereforth newsletter appears and is quite brilliant

What else might influence their decision?

Rarely will it be one thing and one thing only that will decide how the choice is made between your proposal and your competitor’s.


Different reasons for doing ANYTHING (often they’re based on personal experiences, deeply held beliefs, trust, likes and dislikes, perhaps just a desire to be ‘first’ or to look good.

People do things for the right reasons (rational and often clearly stated) and the real reasons (based on personal experiences, deeply held beliefs, trust, likes and dislikes, avoidance of risk, or a desire to be ‘first’ or to look good). Another factor that might swing the decision your way is your ability to fit your solution or approach with what is going on inside the client’s organisation. Will what you are proposing make them look good to their clients?

I once worked with a team that won some business not just because of their strategy and the team they picked to manage the business. They also picked up on the fact that the client was punching below its weight in terms of using digital media and wanted that fixed. So, the team made a digital training programme for the client’s entire marketing team part of the proposal, and this ensured they won.

What ‘turns them on’?

Again, we are circling back to understanding what our customer really wants from us. Those communicative types in the decision-making team will make it very clear what they like and what they don’t like. You will hear these people repeat the phrase ‘in my experience’ and the words that come after those will usually show what turns these people on (or off).


Make sure the outcome or result you are promising is clear


When you list the benefits of your proposal, you need to ensure that there is plenty to turn the client on. And, for those decision-makers who are less talkative, make time (often outside the main meeting) to check in with them and ensure you’ve tuned in to their needs.

The big picture turns on expressive types; analytical people will love the rigour of your process; and amiable folk just love, full stop. For direct people, who often appear impatient, just make sure the outcome or result you are promising is clear.



A colleague of mine who heads up a large sales team once told me how he watches for the tell-tale signs of his team not listening. One indicator, for him, is when he asks a member of his team how they got on in a meeting with a client and the sales person says, ‘Yes, great meeting, they told me what they wanted, but I know what they really need.’ My colleague knows that, at that precise point in that meeting, the sales person had stopped listening and gone straight to formulating a solution based on their own ideas rather than the client’s. Instead, think along these lines:

  • We win business by giving people what they want.
  • We keep business by giving people what they need.


A client might not have really known what they needed at the outset of their ‘journey’ with us. However, little by little, through delivering what they wanted, building trust and getting results, we move them into a position (or rather move ourselves into the position) of broaching, tackling and delivering their needs.

How much do they know?


So, ask yourself, ‘How much do they know?’

This is a good opening question in a meeting. Or even before that: it’s also a good opening question for the email you send to your contact within the company to confirm the date and time of your presentation or of a progress meeting.

A friend of mine who works for a pharmaceuticals company told me about how he once got pulled into a meeting in which he had not been privy to the original discussions between his company and the training provider who was making the pitch. He endured 45 minutes of discomfort trying to figure out the context of the meeting and why the training provider was proposing what was being put on the table.

So, ask yourself, ‘How much do they know?’ This applies equally if you are bringing a colleague into a meeting; make sure you have briefed him or her.

And, when you’re giving a presentation or pitch, this question is both important a great way of breaking the ice. It gives the ‘other side’ the opportunity to confirm where they are with the ideas in question and with your approach and your company. You might be at third base, but they might still be waiting to bat!

How do they make a decision?


Will it go up the line?

How do they make a decision?

Will just one person make the decision or will it go up the line? Have you made allowances for discussions to be held and decisions to be made when you are not there? One of my colleagues’ favourite questions to her clients in this circumstance is: ‘So, do you have everything you need for when this goes in front of the group?’ As part of the meeting, she often gently runs through the answers to questions that are likely to come once her proposal has left her control.

The pace of the decision-making might also be a factor to accommodate. Question 4 discussed the benefit of an early ‘yes’ – a reason for the decision to made sooner rather than later. Possibilities include offering extra value within your solution (not a discount) or activities to help the client internally promote the benefit of choosing your solution.

If the decision-making pattern is protracted, another factor to consider is whether you need to refresh your proposal. Perhaps you need to add in an extra message, feature or idea that recharges your overall proposition. So, after the pitch, always ask yourself: what more might the client need? And how will you find this out?