“We’ve got the fur coat and the knickers…”
, the exact words that came out of my mouth on a recent pitch. Not your standard sales patter I’ll admit – but we won the account nevertheless (I’m not for one minute thinking it was this line that sealed the deal!).
Whilst it is a brash statement and, some may say, a little uncouth; the sentiment behind it is 100% true. I was trying to put across that whilst we can pitch well, we can also deliver – we have the skills as a team to knock the project out of the park. Basically, we’re not all talk.
I’ve been doing this for long enough to know we won’t win every pitch – other agencies will fit better, cost may be an issue or the other agency has more relevant examples. That’s perfectly fine – winning a pitch and being the wrong fit is just as bad as losing it long term.
However, there have been numerous occasions where lost pitches have come back to us having chosen someone else first. It just hasn’t worked out, they couldn’t deliver what they said they could, they started ramping up the out-of-scope costs or the A-team that was brought to the pitch disappeared and the client was left with junior team members still learning the ropes. A standard case of over-promising and under-delivering.
Technical ability is often something that is glossed over in favour of the creative – so if I were reviewing agencies I’d ensure to try to explore more in this area, rather than ask can you deliver X, Y and Z (to which you’ll just get a ‘yes’) – ask ‘how’ and get some detail that shows they know what they’re talking about or, better still, examples of other similar work.
By the way, I’m not trying to give the industry I love a bad name – there are some amazing agencies out there; definitely more good than bad. This is more a word of warning. If you can… find out who the delivery team are (meet them pre-sign off if you can), get some references and dig as deep as you can into the agency behind the sharp suit and impressive Keynote. Like us, any agency worth their salt, will be happy to open the doors up and let you have a look around.