I’ve always remembered a particular shampoo commercial that we studied in one of my college classes. The screen keeps filling up with more and more people’s faces and the voiceover artist says, “And they’ll tell two friends. And they’ll tell two friends. And so on and so on.”
Every Pitch is Important
I remember this whenever I’m pitching companies. I think, “Even if I don’t get this contract, perhaps they’ll tell their colleagues about me. Or maybe they’ll keep me in mind the next time a project comes up.” Either way, I know that I’m not just pitching the people in that room. In a very real way, I’m pitching everyone they know.
Real Life Pitch
A recent experience reminded me of this lesson. Two companies pitched their services to a board that I serve on.
The first company’s presentation was scattered at best. The presenters were “creative” types, who do great work, but their laptop wasn’t compatible with the projector system. We waited 10-15 minutes for them to troubleshoot with one of our laptops. Not only did they not have a backup plan, but it soon became clear that they didn’t really have a game plan either. They were just “winging it.” And while they ad libbed well about their work and their creative process, they didn’t field questions very well.
The second company was more organized, but they delivered a “canned” presentation. It was clearly their “fill in the blank” presentation with a couple of minor tweaks. Three out of the four people presenting were reading off of the slides. Two of them never made eye contact with anyone in the room. One person– a founder of the company– was “phoning” it in. He looked like he’d much rather be somewhere else. To add insult to injury– he got the name of the organization wrong, even though it was written on the slide he was reading. (No, he didn’t correct himself.)
When the presentations were over, I thought, “Even if you didn’t really want this group’s business, wouldn’t you have put forth more effort?” Every person on that board knows people. They will all tell people about those companies and their lack of preparation and effort. Similarly, a good presentation would have earned each company a ton of goodwill and possible referrals.
Instead they both did a lackluster job. And I can assure you that I’ve already told two friends, who will tell two friends… and so on and so on..
Repeat after me: Every Pitch Is Important!
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