The outcome of a pitch is typically the result of how the audience engages with four core facets of the content and delivery.

Content and delivery elements – the ‘four Ps of pitching’

  1. People – consider how you’re coming across
When planning a pitch think about how you and your team will come across as people. Not the way you’re dressed, not how convincing you are, not how concisely you speak, but who you actually are. This element is often overlooked.

Are you trustworthy? Are you likeable? Do you believe in what you’re saying or are you putting on a front just to secure the deal?

The best way to gain trust is to really listen to your potential client, and be genuinely empathetic. It’s imperative to understand their desires, fears, challenges and experiences.

Conversely, traits that come across as disingenuous are the opposite. For example, persistence in trying to close the deal without really caring whether the right product or service fits with their needs.

  1. Price – demonstrate that you’re offering value for money
For any business, whether you win or fail in the pitching process will often come down to perceived value for money. It doesn’t matter how valuable you think your services are, if they don’t specifically solve a potential client’s problem then you won’t be considered worth the investment.

You need to have uniqueness in your offering to charge a decent amount for your services and be perceived as offering value for money. That’s the holy grail. People often vote with their pockets, and this means that you absolutely have to offer something that the prospect can’t achieve without you. Otherwise you’re essentially delivering a consultation and not a pitch.

  1. Principle – ensure there is parity in the room
Although many might not admit it, even to themselves, people often vote according to their value system, putting this above other major contributing factors like financial benefit. People will often engage far better with people who, at their core, are like them. This is one of the reasons why pitch teams will often aspire to ‘job role parity’ in the pitch room.

If you know that the CEO of the prospect company is going to be attending your pitch, it’s wise to mirror this and ensure your CEO is present too. If you don’t, your pitch might not deliver to the right level and the prospect may feel undervalued.

The same is true if you are pitching to highly analytical people or highly creative people – you need some parity in the room as a basic requirement. Having this job role parity will give you a better chance of creating chemistry between you and the prospect, and that’s when making the deal starts to look likely.

  1. Proposition – always be prepared to back up your ideas
You must go into a pitch armed with a real-life plan. Ideas at this stage are good, but the potential client needs to be able to see that you have the tools, resources, know-how and strategy to turn them into a reality.

You must have numbers and they need to be watertight (e.g. pricing, forecasts, efficiency calculations).You need to have a perfect understanding of what happens if they select you (timelines, assigned people, etc.). And you need to be able to answer the age-old question, ‘Why you guys and not X?’

What matters to them will matter to you

When preparing for a pitch it’s not only about looking at the four facets I’ve outlined and deep diving into each of them so you’re covered.

Instead, you should ultimately be looking to discover which of them makes your prospect tick. It could be all four, or it could be just one. The key is to understand your potential client and walk into the room armed with a pitch that is unique to them.

Discovery or chemistry sessions ahead of a pitch are critical. This is where you negotiate a short meeting, usually informal over a coffee, that takes place a few weeks ahead of a pitch to give you a chance of understanding the motivations of the buyer, test out some ideas, and really determine what needs to be in your pitch and what to avoid.

It’s wise to check out the prospect’s social media, in particular LinkedIn, where you’ll have a good chance of learning about what really matters to them.

Clinching the deal

Pitching for new business can be daunting, whether you’re a young company or a household name. Competition is rife and it’s often the very effort of trying to stand out that makes pitches blend into a crowd of same-old attempts. That’s why it’s vital to realise that the wow factor won’t wow unless you’ve tailored it to the individual needs of your prospect.

Some people’s decisions are based almost entirely on one of the four Ps, while others can be more balanced. Understanding what motivates the specific decision maker(s), within the context of these can prove decisive in getting the outcome you want.

Think of it like walking into the room having already gotten pally with your potential client – you personally know and value them, now all that’s left to do is to ensure the feeling’s mutual.

By Andreas Pouros, founder and COO of Greenlight Digital