Stop Pitching and Ask Questions

Over the span of my career in both technology firms and marketing agencies, I have been in my share of meetings and pitches to win work. It usually goes something like this…get solicited for the work, prepare a pitch to make your capabilities sound better than the other presenters, put on your best suite and give the pitch, follow up and hope that you win the work.  I have never liked this routine and pitches for that matter, because it always felt one-dimensional and shallow. You see, I like to ask questions…lots of questions and there often is not a place for that when you focused on selling your capabilities.

Why are questions more important than the pitch? Questions allow you to get into the depths of the business need and uncover the truth. Going back to the pitches, many times we would feel good about the pitch until the questions come and then we realize we missed the mark because we made assumptions about their need. Focusing on questions rather than a pitch will do three things for you: 

  • Prevents you from wasting time on a pitch that is going down the track. As soon as you go down the wrong, you either lose the interest of the decision maker or you have to damage control when they ask questions out of confusion.
  • You don’t sound like everyone else. If your pitch sounds the same except for eye candy and maybe a variation on the process, the decision comes down to who they like better, not who has the best solution.
  • Questions show the decision makers that your strategic and can think of solutions or ideas on the spot. They will see that your strategy is not formulaic, but custom to their need therefore letting your expertise shine.

 Since starting my strategic consulting practice, I have only participated in one pitch. We did not win the bid. On the other hand, my record of gaining clients with questions as the focus outweighs the losses. Consider putting your effort into formulating a couple of questions instead of a pitch. I bet your conversation with decision makers will organically go places and uncover opportunities that you (and the decision maker) did not know exist.

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