What do Martin Scorsese films, business to business lead times, and politicians’ sentences all have in common? That’s right they are all getting longer and longer!!
My training company works across the professional services sector and one of the most consistent trends my clients are finding is that their lead times (from initial discussion to business taking place) is getting much longer – in some cases as much as 50% longer in just the last 12 months.
This has a massive impact on our ability to forecast business, manage cash flow, predict resource and communicate to our shareholders that we are on a long term and sustainable path to growth.
Now there are a number of factors that need to be considered to resolve this – mainly making sure we are fully understanding the needs of clients, writing fantastic proposals and actively following them up. But there is an area that is often overlooked, and that is the importance of pitching your solution, even if the client hasn’t asked you too. Why? – because it can get all the decision makers in the room, shows you are hungry for the work, and proves to the client why this is business critical.
So with that in mind below are some top tips on making you stand out from the crowd, and get your clients moving in to action quicker:
- Grabber: do something at the beginning to grab them emotionally – tell a story, ask a question, show a picture, show them a fact. Something that makes them think about the challenge they need to resolve
- Be business critical: Demonstrate why the client needs to act on this, right now
- You deliver: not your slides. The point of a pitch is for clients to assess you as a person or a team. They know what you have to offer, you have sent them a proposal!!
- Demonstrate confidence and expertise: don’t tell the client you have them!!
- Be great to work with: Clients are assessing whether you will be a team that will fit their culture. Be people that will be enjoyable to work with, and most importantly make them look good when you are introduced into their business
- Get interaction: clients spend their lives being talked to, if you have all the decision makers in the room, give some time and space for them to discuss how to take your ideas forward. Facilitate that session and you are really adding value!
- Differentiate: With procurement getting more and more involved make sure you can truly justify what makes you different from everybody else and why they need to go with you. Remember this is not only about the service offer you are pitching but the expertise the team are bringing
- Close with confidence: Ask for the business, close down next steps and deal with any push back. If you believe you are the best solution for them, then why wouldn’t you?
So what I am trying to say is that you can affect the speed at which clients are making their decisions, you just need to make sure that you are being the best you can from proposal to pitch.