Pitching

Pitch Follow-up Strategies

Falling Down on Follow-up

I’ve coached a lot of professionals on pitching to clients, investors, and virtually every other type of stakeholder. Much of the time I spend with clients is on helping them tell a clear story — one that will resonate with their audience, and that will make a clear case for the investment opportunity at hand.

The Initial Pitch is Only the Beginning

When my clients pitch, they are fully prepared with a compelling presentation that looks great, and that they deliver with brilliance. 

But the fact is that you rarely get a “yes” from an investor the day that you pitch. You often hear, “Sounds great. Keep us updated…” or “Thanks for the presentation. We’ll be in touch.”

Staying in Touch

This is where a lot of people lose momentum with the pitch process. You must stay in touch. You can’t assume that your pitch presentation will be remembered three weeks from now. You also can’t assume that you persuaded the audience fully from that one meeting. You need to do the work to stay in front of them, and to ensure they understand that they are going to miss out if they don’t get to a “yes” soon.

The Art and Science of Follow-up

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to follow-up. However, you must ensure you’re not coming across as pushy or obnoxious. 

I believe your follow-up strategy needs to be customized to the individual, so you can develop a real relationship that they value. Doing so requires the right balance of frequency and content.

I can help.

Conver-Speaking

When I led a brand communication agency, I had to do a lot of pitches. In preparation for each pitch meeting, my team and I would craft a presentation that would tell the prospect a story that we thought would resonate with them. It would include an assessment of their situation, our proposed approach to solving their problem, and samples of previous work and the results they created. Then, I’d rehearse the presentation to death. I was always confident and ready to present it by meeting day.

80 percent of the time, I would not present it as planned — and that was by design

My goal when walking into the room was always to get my audience talking first. If I could do so, the meeting would naturally become a conversation — an opportunity to share experiences, pain points, and potential solutions as real people genuinely interested in collaborating. Would I use the slides we had prepared? In most cases, yes. But I would jump around and bring up examples as the conversation warranted. It all depended on how the conversation went. A few times, not a single slide was shown and we still won the work.

20% of the time, the people in the room needed to see the traditional pitch, and I would give it to them. Still, I would try to treat the presentation as a conversation, getting them involved along the way as much as possible, and trying to make it a two-way dialogue instead of a monologue.

Next time you need to present, think about your audience and what they need to hear from you — and also why you both are there. Then consider how to make it more of a conversation than a speech or presentation. It’s not always possible, but when it is, a two-way dialogue will make it easier for you to build a stronger relationship from the start.

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