Top tips no 6: How to win a pitch

What experience makes a client choose you?

I asked a number of clients about how the agencies looking to work with them approach relationship building.

If you’ve ever asked yourself, ‘How can I win work?’ the answer could be in the areas below.

  • Demystify: The general view here was that design was complex enough. It required simplification. And that any attempt to reframe it, still describes the same process underneath. Make what you say about what you do, really straightforward.


  • Be open and ask a question: When concerns are expressed about any aspect of your pitch, don’t attempt to persuade. Pause and ask, “What’s important to you about that?” and then, “What would tell you we could meet your expectations in that area?”


  • Be about your people: Who are the creatives? And who are the account teams? Who will be producing the work and working with the client? What are they about? It’s all about the people.


  • Be what you say: If you’re talking about brand building show how you’ve built your brand. If you’re talking about innovation, show when you’ve innovated for yourselves. If you’re saying ‘segment your audience’ show how you’ve done it.


  • Ask the right questions: Ask ‘what’s your business problem?’ not ‘have you got a brief?’ Be prepared to have a bigger conversation. This changes the conversation from ‘we can design your packaging’ to ‘we can help you think through your strategic problem, think bigger, identify some problems and causes.’


  • Invest in the relationship: Immerse yourself in the client’s world. Be willing to work to understand your client. Don’t be waiting for them to understand you. What’s going on in their world, from their point of view? And who are they? Perhaps they’ve spent some time agency side. Perhaps they’ve been a creative. There is a whole world of activity that you can see if you look for it. With empathy, you will see it. And the understanding you gain will give you more options.

I hope these are useful. How’s your win ratio? I’d be pleased to hear from you with questions or your experiences. Do get in touch.

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