Pitch or ditch? Now that’s the question….

This week’s guest blogger, Absolute Corporate Events managing director Chris Parnham takes on the topic of pitching and when to say no to clients….

Pitching  is like dating. The events agency, with a thirst for new business, and a pocket full of promises, is looking for love in a sea of available corporate event planners. But like dating, pitching isn’t easy, and we have to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince. But just as in life, we don’t simply date anyone who’s shows a slight interest, we see if they measure up to our standards, requirements and dreams. 

When you are next invited to pitch for a piece of new business, here’s how to check if you and your potential corporate planner are well suited…

Are they already in a relationship? If you are invited to pitch for a company who already has an agent, and they are happy, they are simply not going to leave them. Window shopping is fun, but they will always go home to the one who makes them feel safe and secure. No sensible corporate event planner risks losing a trusted relationship for an unknown flirt of fancy. They are just seeing what’s out there, and in most cases, you’re wasting your time. Smile, wave, be nice. But don’t pitch. 

Are they promiscuous? These sassy event planners are easy to spot. They will invite more than ten potential suitors to pitch,  and they will rarely make time for a face-to-face briefing or sometimes not even a pre-pitch phone call. Perhaps the whole pitch process is being managed on line, tindr-style, with no relationship building, no investment and no compassion. Swipe left, move on, and don’t pitch.  

Are they fishing? They just had a row with their partner agency and they are sulking. Perhaps something went wrong at their last outing. They know they are on to a good thing, but they feel taken for granted so they are shopping around to see if the grass is greener… Or mummy may be telling them that they can do better (in this case, mummy is a procurement department). These guys are easily found out by asking how they get on with their current partner agency. If this doesn’t show you how committed  to each other they still are, then ask them why they have gone to tender. Look out for the following words in their answer; “benchmarking, testing the market, it’s policy to go to tender every xx years, just seeing what’s out there..”. if you hear any of these, you know that the planner is in a serious relationship, and although they may be going through a rough patch, they are still together and you are just a jealousy strategy. They have a wedding ring, they’re just not wearing it. Move on, and don’t pitch. 

Dating successfully requires a potential partner who is willing to be interested in You.  If you don’t already have a relationship, cultivated by a recommendation or introduction, then try to cultivate one through a first date, which has to be face to face.  If this isn’t offered then swipe left and move on.  You also need some common ground. Can you talk about events in their world, with experience, credibility and a proven pedigree? If not, someone else can and will, so step aside and wait for a better match.  Don’t force it and don’t fake it

But when you find a pitch where you have even a slight connection, through an introduction, recommendation or common interested, where you have some experience and a proven pedigree, where you know you will stand out, and you are sure the potential suitor is single and genuinely on the market, then give it everything you’ve got. Only when you show them your very best will you succeed and win their hand.

Finally, if you are lucky enough to be in a committed relationship with a corporate event planner, never take the relationship for granted.  If they go to tender, it means they are looking for you to remind them why they chose you in the first place. So bring out the big guns and blow them away. You hold all the cards, so make sure you place your ACE.  

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