People: The Differentiator in an Agency Pitch

Saying people are important in an agency pitch is…well, what’s the opposite of an “aha” moment? A “so what?” moment? Telling agencies that their team is critical to a client’s business is something they already know. But we’ve noticed that an agency’s team can sometimes feel like an afterthought in a review, when it should be showcased as one of its greatest assets.

Here’s why and how to place your team at the center of your pitch:

  • The team breaks the tie in. When all else is equal, your team wins the business. Unique value propositions, proprietary tools and processes…the reality is, in the finals of a review, these all sound the same to a client. It’s how your specific team thinks, creates and partners that will make a real impact on a brand’s business. So, give careful consideration to the people you put in the room—why they are there, what role they play and how they will work on the business after the pitch is won.
  • Stand up. We’ve managed scores of pitches where agencies present from their seats and clients take notice. (Not in a good way…) Possess gravitas. Make eye contact. Your team needs to take command of the room, assert authority and prove value—all trickier to achieve from a seat.
  • Ask the client what they are looking for. Clients have preconceived notions of what they want in a team, often based on past experience—good and bad. Find out what’s important to them and what their structure looks like. If their CMO is heavily involved with the agency, be sure you have a senior-level counterpart. No one wants a client to walk away from a presentation thinking, “Our senior leadership would eat this team for lunch.” (An actual quote from one of our clients.)
  • Don’t lose sight of the basics. In the midst of the new business machine, the basics can be overlooked. We’ve been in pitches where agency people are in the room but never introduced. Their roles never explained. Clients see multiple agency teams and are privy to a dizzying array of titles during the pitch process. At a minimum, present each team member and explain what they do. If one of your key objectives is differentiation, take as much time building a connection between your team and your potential client as you would explaining your creative approach.

In an increasingly complex marketing landscape, where every agency says they do everything, people have risen to the top. Don’t underestimate the importance of cultural fit, the strength of your team and the ability of your people to deliver on a client’s challenges—in the pitch room and after the business is won.