Written by Steve Boehler & Barry O’Neil
So you fought your way through the RFP process and finally have a chance to show off your solution in front of the prospect. In the lead-up, you hopefully did the hard work of analyzing their business challenges, finding rich insights to leverage, and developing a winning strategy. If you did, you’re ready to share your solution in person (or over Zoom), and you should use these five tips to do so in a compelling way:
1. Use a manifesto to introduce the solution. The manifesto (text or video) acts as a sort of “mood board” to nudge the prospect toward thinking and feeling about your solution in a certain way. Done well, it can create a safety net around your proposal by making your prospects respond emotionally before they see the work.
If you’re having a good presentation and you show the manifesto video, it pulls on their emotions, their heart strings, and they’re responding, or they’re smiling, and they’re like, “Yep. You nailed it.” It’s over at that point. – Mark Astone, Catalyst Marketing
2. Present your solution through your agency process. Assuming you arrived at your solution through your agency’s strategic process, now’s the time to show the prospect how you did so. Walk them through the steps, connecting the dots for the audience to build up support for the reveal. When you talk about the solution itself, pinpoint how it addresses the prospect’s specific business issues.
Storytellers for the Information Age is our philosophy and One Story, Many Voices is how we do it. We live in this world where there is endless information. One of the jobs we have to do for our clients is boil down that information and compress it somehow in a structured way and then tell one story in many different ways. – Mark Figliulo, FIG
3. Don’t use formal case studies. Agencies often want to include past relevant experience in a pitch, which is the right instinct. Unless case studies are asked for, though, we don’t recommend sharing them in full, as the minute you’re talking about other clients is the minute the prospect’s attention drifts to their phone.
4. Instead of cases, name drop your related successes with “droplets.” Reference past successes succinctly in a way that directly ties to the current conversation. A droplet is simply a one-sentence description highlighting past work that is relevant to the prospect, including only the brand, the challenge, the strategy or tactic, and the outcome. It’s a quick way to add credibility and not lose the audience with a tangent.
The client does not pay attention until you start talking about them. – Robin Boehler, Mercer Island Group
5. Prove you’re results-focused by telling them what you’ll measure. It’s one thing to share a great marketing strategy, but the prospect needs to fully understand how the investment will be quantified.
I think it’s a huge responsibility when a client entrusts their business with me and my agency, because they’re hiring us to do a business outcome. I’m passionate about the results, and you’ve got to be relentless about it to get good business results. You can’t be casually interested in the data and the metrics to get good business results. – Dooley Tombras, Tombras
If you follow these five tips, you’ll be better prepared the next time you’re in the room, virtual or otherwise. After all your hard work, these tips should help you present your brilliant solution with clarity sans distractions, all while keeping the talk focused on the prospect and the challenges they’re facing.
Steve Boehler, founder and partner at Mercer Island Group, has led consulting teams on behalf of clients as diverse as Nokia, HP, Microsoft, Sprint, Nintendo, Abbott Laboratories and numerous others. He founded MIG after serving as a division president in a Fortune 100 when he was only 32. Earlier in his career, Steve Boehler cut his teeth with a decade in Brand Management at Procter & Gamble, leading brands like Tide, Pringles and Jif.
Barry O’Neil, a Senior Consultant at Mercer Island Group, has led numerous agency/vendor searches and client/agency relationship management 360 review processes. He has led efforts for clients such as CFA Institute, U.S. Cellular, Ulta Beauty, Clarisonic, CenturyLink, CustomInk and many others. He has also participated in corporate restructuring initiatives, client process realignment initiatives, and agency new business reviews and pitch/positioning consulting.