So you have been shortlisted for that project that you are desperate to win. All that stands between you and your dream project is a presentation followed by a question and answer time. How do you ensure you give the best pitch of your life?
There is no single approach to giving a successful pitch. It depends on the client, the project and your own personality. But there are some things you can bear in mind. These presentation tips are about more than what goes on your slides and how to make them look pretty.
When a client asks you to attend a pitch they want to know two things: can they work with you and can you deliver. This means any pitch is about making a connection and instilling confidence.
How to instill confidence
A well-written proposal goes a long way towards giving your client confidence in your ability to deliver. But, until they meet you and see the confidence in your eyes, it is going to be hard for them to be sure. That is why it is so important for you to exude confidence when presenting.
One of the most important factors in being confident is to be well-prepared. But, it is also possible to over prepare. Endlessly going over your presentation will only increase your apprehension. It will fill you with self-doubt. Yes, prepare thoroughly but also know when to stop.
Make sure your presentation includes a lot of examples. Examples of when you have solved similar problems before. If you lack examples that are similar, draw upon different elements from different projects. By using these examples they will show you are capable of delivering.
Always remember that your presentation should focus on the client’s requirements and not on you. If you focus too much on why you are perfect for this job it stinks of desperation and will damage your chances of winning. We are looking for a quiet confidence not arrogance or self-importance.
On that note, be willing to say you do not know if asked a question that stumps you. A professional does not need to have all the answers, but rather have a process for finding the answers. Being willing to admit when you do not know demonstrates self-confidence in yourself and your process.
Focus on your processes – it demystifies the project and shows your capability to deliver.
When talking about your ability to deliver, focus on that process. By having a method, it shows clients that you have done this before. It outlines a roadmap that delivers a successful solution. This exposes the project and gives the client confidence.
Finally, encourage the prospective client to contact your references. Whether they choose to do this or not, it tells them that you are confident you have done a good job for past clients. Consider offering the prospective client the option to contact any of your clients, whether or not you actually put them down as a reference.
Outlining your process, encouraging contact with past clients and showing your expertise will exude confidence. But, this is not just about your ability to deliver. The client has to like you too.
How to make a connection
You can be the best web designer in the world, but if people do not like you they will not work with you. At the end of the day, people buy from people they like. Making a connection with your prospective clients during a pitch is important.
The most important thing you can do is be enthusiastic. The client wants to know that you will care about this project as much as he does. This is not always easy if it is just yet another WordPress build. But, it is important that you find something about the project that gets you fired up. The more enthusiastic you are the more the client will know you care and will be willing to trust their project to you.
Show that you don’t just care about the project, but also about the client’s experience. From the outset, do everything you can to make the process easier for them. Offer to leave your presentation with them and follow up afterwards via email. Also, empathize with the challenges of making a selection. Show that you are considering their feelings.
Try and turn your pitch from a presentation into a discussion – by working together you build a connection.
Ask the client throughout the pitch whether you are making sense. This shows that you care about their opinion, but also encourages them to ask questions and start engaging with you. Be willing to go off track if it gets the client talking. The more your pitch is like a discussion, the more of a connection you will make.
Finally, do not be afraid to insert some humour into your pitch. Your prospective client may be a middle manager in some large corporate office, but that does not stop them from being a human being too! If you can get them smiling and laughing you have gone a long way to building a connection.
Of course, it goes without saying that you need to be careful. Keep your humour gentle and non-risque!
Give them something new
I want to take a moment to consider the content of your presentation. Whatever you do, do not just repeat what has been said in the proposal document.
Although a short recap of the proposal may be useful, anything more is likely to bore your audience. You cannot presume that they have read it, but you need to bring more to the table than regurgitating what you’ve already said.
In most cases your proposal will focus on deliverables, timescales, pricing and your suitability. I recommend that your presentation focuses on process and a discussion around initial approaches.
Using a service like UserTesting can add compelling content to your presentation and focus clients on their user’s needs.
Wherever possible, it is nice to throw in some kind of extra “wow” factor to grab people’s attention. This may be a little demonstration or showcase of inspiration. One of my personal favorites is to use a service like UserTesting. I use it to create a video showreel of people struggling to use their existing website.
This helps reinforce the clients decision to redesign, which always goes down well. It also reflects well on you for putting effort into doing some initial user research. The good thing is, producing a video like this takes little time at all.
So what is the secret to a successful pitch? It is being confident, engaging and enthusiastic all while bringing a fresh perspective that the client has not been presented before.
You didn’t expect it to be easy did you?