You’ve put in the perfect sales pitch, ticked all the boxes, and yet somehow you didn’t win the project. You’re baffled and frustrated, and no wonder – just what do you have to do to win those important contracts?
Pitching often seems like more of a black art than a science, particularly when you’ve had a few rejections. However, in reality there are usually a few key reasons for rejection that are reasonably easy to rectify given a little thought.
In this post, we’ll look at six key reasons your pitch was rejected, and suggest some positive ways to improve your chances of success. Let’s have a look!
1. You Were Overly Technical
You know your own field intimately, you’re proud of your expertise, and it’s tempting to emphasize this in your pitches. However, your client isn’t an expert in your field, and if you blind them with too much detail you’ll only serve to lose their focus.
Always look at any pitch critically and strip away any jargon – the industry terms nobody but insiders use. If you really feel you need to explain a technical aspect, look for simple ways of conveying what you mean. Also, remember that what’s obvious to you may not be to your client. Here, try to step back and look at your pitch from the client’s point of view.
Crucially, avoid abstract concepts and choose plain language whenever possible. Remember, you’re trying to connect with your client, not confuse them!
2. You Didn’t Do Your Research
It’s easy to rush into a pitch without looking carefully at the client requirements, and often, pitches fail to consider the issues clients are likely to be facing that have to be tackled in the project.
To correct this, you’ll need to gather information on the client. Firstly, make a checklist of points you have to cover in your pitch. Visit the client’s website (particularly the About page and their blog) to get an idea of how they see themselves, and the issues that matter to them. If you can get hold of any promotional material, check it for the words they repeatedly use, and use them in your own pitch. Also, have a look at industry forums to see what others in their field are concerned about, and incorporate that too.
By hitting these points, you’ll have a much deeper understanding of your client’s needs. You can use your findings not only to create a more insightful pitch, but also to develop relevant supplementary questions that will impress your client with your grasp of their issues.
3. You Got the Price Wrong
It can be difficult to work out an appropriate value for your work, and it can be as bad to pitch too low as too high. A conservative price could give the client doubts about you – can you possibly be as good as those who have priced their services much higher? If you’ve pitched too high, you’ll price yourself out of the job – unless you’ve sold yourself well, and your client has cash to splash, that is.
There are a number of simple strategies you can use to refine your pricing. Firstly, do some market research: look at your competitors’ websites, find out what they’re offering, and for how much. If they’re coy about publicizing their prices, try looking at their client list and see if there’s a contactable lead to ask about their charges.
Beyond this, make sure your price factors in all of your costs, and set a fair profit margin. Don’t forget that if you’re well-researched and can deftly explain the benefits of your service, they can also attract a premium. However, also keeping within a reasonable distance of your competitors is a useful rule of thumb.
4. You Buried Your Unique Selling Point (USP)
One thing a lot of people are remarkably good at is hiding their light under a bushel (or some other more psychological container – usually shyness or modesty). However, if you don’t show your client why you’re a standout choice, they’ll likely pass you by.
To drive home your USP, remember to start from your client’s perspective. Now you know the needs or challenges your business can solve for the client, and also how and why your customer will use your services, you can leverage this to link your strengths to your client’s most pressing needs.
To start, briefly list the benefits your business can bring, and define the outcomes your client can expect. Next, condense this to a few sentences, and make them the focus of your pitch. There are some amazingly successful USPs out there you can look at for inspiration – they don’t have to be incredibly wordy, in fact sometimes less really is more!
5. You Didn’t Meet the Guidelines
One of the most frustrating reasons for losing a contract is not reading the Request For Proposals (RFP) properly, and missing out a key item that the client needed more information on.
Before anything else, make sure you have read and understood the RFP, create your own simple list of client requirements as you understand them, then check your list carefully against the RFP.
Next, look carefully at the list of requirements in light of the research that you’ve done. Try to understand why the client is asking for them, and how your proposed role fits into their business. Remember, when you put your pitch together you have to demonstrate that you’ve read the RFP and answered each point. What’s more, you need to show you’ve understood what the client’s looking for with each requirement.
6. You Didn’t Follow Up
Creating your pitch isn’t the end of the story. If you’ve ever sent off a pitch and waited in vain for weeks for a response, you’ve made a big mistake. By using Bidsketch, you’ll know when your client opens your proposal – if it’s quick, that’s promising. However, if not, perhaps you need to make a follow-up email or call to glean some extra information you can use to land the job.
Bidsketch also offers much more, of course: beautiful templates, custom client landing pages, easy mixing and matching of content, fees and designs, fast turnaround of proposals with electronic signatures, and more. It’s all designed to impress and make it as easy as possible for clients to accept your proposal.
Finally, when you’re following up with a client, there’s a rough rule of thumb: one email, one phone call. Make your first contact a few days after the pitch has gone in, or earlier if you know it’s been opened. You can style your contact as an offering of help – ask your prospective client if they have any questions about your pitch, and if there’s anything else you can provide.
Having your pitch rejected is frustrating, so minimizing the risk of that happening is vital. There are many obvious mistakes that people make including baffling clients with jargon, not researching their needs thoroughly enough, or getting the price wrong.
These six issues (and their solutions) are key for success:
- Don’t get too technical: Refine your pitch from your client’s perspective.
- Don’t forget to do your research: Look at your client’s website and blog for ideas.
- Don’t get the price wrong: Find out what competitors charge, and work out what you need to make.
- Don’t bury your Unique Selling Point: Make sure you sell yourself up front!
- Don’t forget to read the Request for Proposals carefully: Make sure you cover all of the client requirements thoroughly.
- Follow up your pitch within the first week: Check your prospective client has all the information they need, and use Bidsketch to ensure the best outcome.
Have you had pitching nightmares that have taught you any useful lessons? Let us know in the comments section below!
Photo credit: Geralt.