Don't Sell Your Company, Sell Your Proposal

Nothing makes me zone out faster than the service company pitch that opens with 10 minutes on the history of the firm, a highlights real and a dozen previous project slides kicking off the pitch deck. By all means, throw some of that content at the end of the pitch book. But, when I ask someone on site to pitch a project proposal, I expect them to pitch their solution to the project, not themselves.

I've been there. I understand your instinct to prove to me how impressive and capable you are. I appreciate your desire to communicate just how experienced you are in acting as a partner to firms like us. I just don't need that information right now. I've sent out an RFP that expressed a problem seeking a solution. I need a new building, a new website or a new brand direction. If I respond well to the solution you propose. I'm going to vet your firm and seek references, but in the beginning I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and trust that you wouldn't respond if you weren't able to deliver the product you're pitching.

By presenting yourself to me, you're giving me the information I need to manage my risk. You're effectively proving to me that you're competent to do the job that I've asked you to do. When I'm asking you to present a solution, I'm looking for an opportunity. I want to know how my life, my company and my clients will be better off because of what you are proposing. Stick to the win, don't tell me how I can prevent loss. Preventing risk can come later.

What I'm not going to do, is ask you to design on spec if you aren't comfortable doing so. I fully appreciate that producing a proposal is a time and investment on your part. It's ok to expect a small amount of compensation for this effort. Just be upfront about it and be prepared to tell me why you feel you need the money and what you will deliver for it in a clear and succinct way.