Tag Archives: The Q&A

Surviving the pitch Q&A

You’ve managed to present all your pitch charts without any technical hitches or mistakes, and the prospect is engaged and encouraging.  Home and hosed?  Not quite. This article, written for www.gorkanapr.com, discusses how  the way you answer the Q&A session can influence the final outcome more than your presentation.

Typically, competitive pitches call for a 30 to 45 minutes formal presentation followed by a similar period of time for a Q&A session.  Typically, also, 99% of the time and effort goes into preparing and, hopefully rehearsing the presentation.  1%, or less, is spent preparing how to handle questions.  Here are some of them.

Q:  Why is the Q&A so important?

A:  The prospect’s assessment is lead by their emotional, rather than their rational, response to these key questions.  How will I get along with these people?  How much do they like each other?  How much do they want my business?  It is easier to ‘read’ the answers in the informal environment of the Q&A.

Q:  How can you prepare for the Q&A?

A:  Develop likely questions of three types.  Rational questions seeking clarification, questions that are personal to the questioners and the deliberately hostile/tricky ones designed to gauge your ability to respond.  Note that some of the exact same questions will be asked of your competitors.

Q:  Can, or should you, rehearse?

A:  YES!  Furnish an ‘outsider’ with questions to act as client.  The team leaders fields each question, perhaps with brief response, before passing to the appropriate team member.  The manner of response, the ‘way you say it’ is more important than the clever answer.  And really listening to the questioner is vital.

Q:  How can you reinforce teamwork?

A:  Beware.  It is the people not answering who can undermine, or generate, a sense of team.  If they sit back, arms folded, study their notes, disengaged, they undermine.  If they sit up, focus intently on the questioner, listen with rapt admiration to their colleagues, then teamwork is evident and the meeting is energised.

Q:  What are the pitfalls?

A:  Poor time-keeping that allows the presentation to eat into question time.  Most prospects prefer to talk rather than listen.

A:  Avoid the very long answer, particularly where various members of team, adrenalin-fuelled, butt in to add their comments.

A:  If you get a question you can’t answer, don’t fudge.  With confidence say you will report back later.

A:  Not being ready to answer a tough question on level of fee!

Don’t end on a whimper.  Allow time for a strong closing statement.