In this chapter we’ll look at the sales process, I've included a few important tips which took me years to understand.
I'll put it bluntly: pitching is becoming outdated. As an industry, we’ve been anchored in the routine of crafting impressive presentations designed to sway potential clients. Presentations aim to sell, to convince, to persuade but in doing so we slip into the presenter/complier role, packaging ourselves into what we believe the client desires without fostering trust, without challenging the brief.
Over the last few years, the complexity of web-based projects has increased dramatically, and the pitch has been progressively replaced by the Discovery - a structured phase during which we analyse the needs and the audience to propose an informed solution rather than an assumption.
For further reading on this subject I highly recommend reading Blair Enn’s Win Without Pitching manifesto:
“>”>TheWin Without Pitching Manifesto The cult classic that creative firms around the world are using to win new business at higher prices and a dramatically lower cost of sale. A must-read for any professional creative who owns their own firm… This has been a complete game changer and I would consider it essential reading if ... Read more
Sending a presentation of the studio's capabilities rather than drafting a pitch for every new prospect has been the single greatest change I’ve made to reclaim countless hours of my time every week. It's become a priority for me to start with conversations and find common ground with our leads, rather than continue performing because it is expected.
The capabilities presentation answers the fundamental questions prospects have when starting the conversation:
- What can you do?
- How much does it cost?
- Can you show me examples?
They might be discouraged by the prices, but one of the goals is to avoid wasting precious time on prospects who don't have a serious problem - they're fishing around and don't have a budget. On the flipside, they might find your work inspiring, or perhaps some of your case studies will resonate with a problem they're facing. They might be interested to commit immediately, or come back later.
Either way it starts a conversation to analyse how you can help them!
Once you've had a couple calls or emails to understand the challenge, you've helped them think through a problem and reduced the risk of making a bad decision - they are reassured and ready to commit. It's time to prepare a proposal! For this you use the template I’ve prepared for you.
The proposal is often the first deliverable, and therefore the first impression your lead will receive of your professional collaboration. A document full of mistakes conveys that you are disorganized, inattentive or overwhelmed. Which is why I suggest having someone else review your proposal before submitting it!
To prepare a full proposal you’ll need to go through a scoping and budgeting exercise, which will require the next chapters!
Now you have the proposal ready and its time to present, it's important to understand a couple things:
- Passion sells. I've lost bids because competing vendors communicated more excitement for the project. This feedback has been echoed on bids with different teams and companies. Prepare a rational solution to the challenge, but develop an emotional response to its potential.
- The best communicator gets hired, not the best practitioner. Spend more time listening and asking the right questions. Questions allow you to surface deeper motivations, gain clarity, challenge assumptions, and demonstrate curiosity and empathy. Break a leg!
More often than not nowadays the problem is complex. Clients need our help producing a combination of emotion, engagement, and business results - it's pretty much impossible to fulfil those expectations in a short pitch process, without collaboration and with limited information from an unchallenged brief.
This is particularly true in creative production, where projects contain more uncertainty and subjectiveness.
Discoveries remove the need for guesswork and assumptions, instead encouraging conversation and collaboration, understanding, and expertise. In the absolutely crazy world of digital production, we need to be more than just another vendor - let's be experts, collaborators, co-creators, and partners.
More about Discoveries later!
Create a draft proposal for your project using the template provided, think about how you would communicate your ideas and plans to a potential client. We’ll build on this proposal in the next chapters by adding a scope, a price and a timeline.