This is the title of an article in Campaign this week by the very wise Martin Jones. As director of AAR, the organisation that helps clients chose agencies, he has been on the receiving end of more pitches than most. Whilst his comments are related to advertising, experience of coaching outside that industry suggests they apply across all business areas.
Here are some of his thoughts:
It’s easy to believe that everything rests on the clarity of the agency’s insights about the client’s business or the brilliance of the creative concepts. In reality, the real questions the potential clients are looking to answer are “can I spend time with these people? ” and “how much do they like each other?” and “how much do they want my business?”
He guarantees that the prospect decision is invariably post-rationalised on the basis of the positive responses to those questions……….If they’ve had a good meeting and like the people, they will think you care about their product….If you are a big agency and the client likes the team of people, then big is good.
He stresses the importance of emotional engagement….. If they don’t engage with you, or you don’t engage with each other….the client’s post-rationalisation of the business will largely be based on what they think of them as a group of people.
How do we achieve this emotional engagement in practice?
My own suggestions, as someone who has delivered almost as many pitches as Martin has received, are on this site in the Best Practice guides, in particular ‘ChemistryLessons’ ( the title is self explanatory) and ‘Rehearsal. The Discriminators.’ (Rehearsal makes nice people nicer).
What Martin and I are both saying is that people buy people!