It always surprises me when teams involved in pitching for business don’t spend time working together to show how they can work together and – crucially – make the right impact, as a team. (This post is less concerned with content and more on how to think as a team in a pitch situation.)
Some pitching teams hope to present themselves as the team that can handle the job, yet they’ll enter the room shambolically, one shakes hands whilst another sits; there’s no real communication between team members as they deliver their part of the presentation. Sometimes they even overlap on content! They amble off at the end, probably having spent their time telling their potential client how brilliantly they can do the job…when the client really wants to know how much they’ve thought about their company, what the end result would be and how might they go that extra mile.
Below is what you should do to deliver a great team pitch:
1. Get together as a team before you make your pitch
And do the following:
- Co-ordinate your research
- Decide on your style and approach
- Agree on the content of all parts of the pitch and who is doing what
2. Call up the Ringmaster!
It is essential to decide on the one central person who makes decisions on the day and through whom everyone else on the team operates.
Let’s call them the Ringmaster (or Ringmistress) – get used to them in this role during rehearsals.
3. Rehearse your pitch together
As a team. WITH ALL OF YOU THERE. Try to make the handovers as smooth as possible. Rehearse them too.
4. On the day
The Ringmaster will make the decisions about if to shake hands, when to sit or stand and, importantly, who will answer questions put to the team by the client. This may be a slight nod to the person to whom a direct question is asked. In other words, if you are asked a question directly, defer to the Ringmaster at all times, even if it’s obvious that you’re the one who’s going to answer. Why? Because it all adds to the impression of you working as a team. This sends a subliminal message to the potential client, which backs up anything you may actually say in your pitch about how well you work together.
The Ringmaster will make the introductions and thank the potential client at the end.
If you’re wondering how everyone else on the team will know how to take their cue from the Ringmaster, eg when to stand up to leave at the end, then think about how performers make well co-ordinated curtain calls. How is it that everyone on stage knows when to bow, when to take another bow or when to leave the stage?
The director nominates one of the performers in the centre of the front line and everyone takes their cue from them, using their peripheral vision. The same principle applies in your pitch: out of the corner of your eye watch the Ringmaster, or the person next to you who gets their cue from the Ringmaster, and move when they move.