Grand Slam

MH3 —  March 8, 2012

The moment of truth has arrived.

The day of the big new business pitch has arrived.

It’s like the killer exam in third year university. The door has been firmly shut. The adjudicator has taken his seat. Your trembling hand reaches for the first page. There is no time to run out and wish you had studied more.

It’s time to present the pitch.

The pitch. An impersonal and commercial term, to say the least. Especially in the context of initiating a hopefully long-term relationship. But then again, what are the options to describe the next ninety minutes of structured dialogue?

Audition?
Group Interview?
Test drive?
Tryout?
Dress rehearsal?
Dry run?
Blind date?
Sampling?

Maybe the options aren’t much better. So pitch it is. And pitching is what we do.

Undoubtedly, it’s no surprise to you that I like to pitch. Sadly, me and talking are pretty sympatico. It’s not an ego thing. Trust me. Well, maybe it is.

But not in the context that a room full of eyes are fixated on moi and my Keynote slides. No, the ego in this for me is pretty simple. It’s the reward of nailing it. The rewards of realizing you connected the dots between the client’s needs and your proposed solutions. It’s the intrinsic reward of solving the puzzle.

Being somewhat masochistic, my ego also gets a workout when I missed the mark, crashed and burned, completely dropped the ball. Endless analogies aside, when our pitch doesn’t work, the bruising sets in fast and furious. I’m pretty good at beating myself up over missing the mark.

On the positive ledger, is watching my staff perform in front of the prospective client. As we’ve matured over the years, we’ve gone from being the “Mark Harrison” show to a firm filled with talent who can stand on their own two feet and make me proud.

R
ecently, we had the two big game changers I spoke of last week. At both I was in awe of how prepared, thorough and organized some of our younger guns were. At one, we had a person who is new to our ranks, pitching on our behalf for the first time. She was unbelievable. I’m a presenter snob and she blew me away. Wow, I didn’t realize this was part of the package when I hired her.

Sorry for the boasting. Got carried away there.

So back to the pitch. As the name and its many parallels suggest, this is a unique meeting. You can be presenting to people you may never see again. You could be presenting to people who could become long-term friends.

For me, it’s the latter knowledge that has helped me over time. I’ve come to realize this pitch is about them, not me.

So, it’s my responsibility to make their jobs better. To give them the reassurance that we can help solve their problems. To demonstrate to them we have answers to their business challenges. To provide them with confidence that they made the right choice when they suggested we receive a place on the short list.

I’m not sure how long ago I made this discovery. But it certainly has helped me in my approach. I’m a pitch maniac. I rehearse. I research anecdotes and subtle facts. I think through relevant cases that can add value to my future clients.

The bottom line? The less selling and the more helping I do, results in less strikeouts and more RBI’s!