This article was written for www.gorkanapr.co.uk the site that connects PR professionals and journalists.
Pitching is competitive by nature. Everyone knows this and unless they are natural losers, they engage in a pitch with boundless energy and competitive spirit. However success may not follow if competitiveness is not harnessed and managed at every one of these six points.
1. Competing at the physical level.
Assess your rivals. What are their physical characteristics, strengths and weaknesses, their track record, what are the likely points of emphasis that they will make in any pitch? Then answer the questions: How are you different? How are you better? Ask these questions searchingly since this is where differentiation lies.
2. Competing through attitude.
The other way your rivals will be competing with you is more intangible. It will be their attitude to the pitch and how that comes across to the prospect compared to yours. Your plan of attack must ensure that more energy, more passion and more commitment radiates from you than your competitors.
3. Competing for internal resource.
Often the pitch team will go it alone. This is a mistake. Pitches are the life blood of a company and from the outset everyone, even those outside the main operational activity, should be enrolled. Let them know what is going on. Give them practical ways in which they can help. Site visits, desk research, focus groups, anything that helps engender an enthusiasm that will be felt by the prospect.
4. Competing against your day job.
You need to make sure that you are not ‘competing’ with, and losing out to, your day job. The ideal, which applied to the successful London 2012 bid team, is to have no day job! 100% of your energy goes into the pitch. You may not be able to achieve this but ruthless time management can make sure the pitch team’s prority time is the pitch.
5. Competing for the mind.
To win the rational vote you must , must, answer the brief! Then look to build in areas of differentiation and original insight to your response. (Assume your competitors will have a similarly strong proposal.) Look for insight both in answering the brief and in understanding the underlying client issues. Keep on listening.
6. Competing for the heart.
The commonest mistake in pitching is to focus on content, appealing to the rational, at the expense of people performance, which can be powerfully enhanced with rehearsal. Competing and winning comes when energy is focussed on building rapport with the client, listening to them, engaging with them as people and pitching an emotional experience. People buy people.