In my 12 years at one of the TMA’s “Finest” firms, I saw that firm win many competitive pitch’s by using a unique business development process that included:
- Performing detailed pre-pitch research
- Tailoring the presentation to the client more so than to itself
- Focusing the presentation on more than the financial
- Using operational consulting “carrots”
Research and Pitch Tailoring
It’s axiomatic that the most successful sales presentations are those where prospective clients are engaged and do the most talking. However, it is common for TM firm presenters to only focus on their experience and credentials. This focus can easily bore a prospective client and can lose a potential engagement.
The key to focusing a presentation on the client and their issues is to do detailed research before the presentation. There are data-bases available to determine the size of the potential client, their likely key business issues, the news of their company and industry, where key management came from/went to school, who the competition is and more. By knowing this information a presenter can tailor his/her presentation on how their firm is uniquely qualified to deal with the clients unique issues. From doing this research, we often heard clients say things like: “They tailored their presentation to our specific top-line and strategic challenges – everybody else’s presentations were cookie cutter and all about them.” and, “They were the only firm to address our most pressing needs – poor sales force performance and decreasing top-line sales”.
It’s More Than Just a Financial Issue
Most company’s interviewing Turnaround Management Firms are in distress, many are in fear of the process that is being foisted upon them and many have no idea what to expect from the process and how much it will cost. With this being the case, my firm often won the day because it was able to present a positive vision for the case outcome because it possessed operational, IT and sales and marketing advisory services. Even if the case had no funding for any of those services, by just discussing those services my firm elicited client reactions along the lines of: “Their positive outlook that included the potential for improved operational and top-line performance during the turnaround differentiated them.” and, “They were the only firm with whom we thought that we would actually benefit during the turnaround process”.
Using a Carrot
As mentioned above, many cases do not have funding for anything but the necessary financial projects that are in the bank/lender scope. However, my firm often offered clients a day or two of “free” operations and, or sales and marketing consulting. This offer was also often the differentiating factor in the firm winning the pitch and was a way for the firm to gain eventual niche consulting work later on in the engagement.
There is no doubt that the most important reasons my firm won cases were its prior reputation for fine work, its relationship with stake holders, the rapport it developed with the eventual client and the pricing structure it presented to the client. Yet, by deploying the processes above, my firm was able to differentiate itself from the other firms (also with strong reputations), and in doing so to win many incremental cases.