Ingredients for a winning pitch book

12 May 2015

A lot goes into winning a pitch. From getting the fundamentals right to sheer chemistry, you never know what could sway a decision in your favour. Too many firms rely too heavily on the people pitching - they are important of course, but so is what you leave behind.

While the people presenting the pitch may be able to read the signs while they are in the room with your audience, and adjust direction as needed, controlling what happens after they’ve left the room, or in a week’s time when the prospect has met with the other three or four potential suppliers, is impossible. There will be discussions and debates before a consensus is reached, and it’s the firm that stood out the most that will win the business.

Having a world-class pitch book to leave behind could make all the difference. It enables people to refresh their memories (which, after three or four in-depth pitches can only be a good thing!), and it cements your brand and your proposition.

Every law firm should invest in creating an A-list pitch book. Here’s what you should be thinking about when you do it.

Avoid death by PowerPoint

PowerPoint is a necessary evil. Necessary because it enables you to present one idea at a time, in an engaging way. Evil because it is often used as a crutch, overloaded with information, read word for word, and way too long to hold anyone’s attention.

The best pitch books are 20 slides or less, stick to one idea per slide and contain links to information that is of secondary importance.

The best pitchers are those who are confident enough to speak from memory, without relying on the slides too much. This not only saves your audience from an hour of mind-numbing boredom, it also gives them a reason to read the pitch book in greater detail later.

Hook them early

A good introduction is short and snappy. It focuses on the prospect and their problem rather than on your firm and its history. Get right to it, show your audience that you understand their challenges and tell them the one thing they need to take away from your pitch book.

Focus on the one thing you want to get across

If you had five minutes to convince this prospect that your firm is the best one for the job, what would you say? Why choose you over your competitors?

Remember that your pitch book will have to stand on its own and will probably be seen by people who weren’t in the pitch presentation. The pitch book needs to make sense, cover the important things, and make the reader want to know more.

Rethink the structure

It’s tempting to start with the ‘about us’ slides, before getting into the nitty gritty of what you can help your prospective client achieve.

  • Start with a compelling introduction that draws the reader in.
  • Discuss the challenges that your potential client is facing. Don’t just repeat the problem as stated in their RFP. Show that you have digested it and that you have thought about it long and hard.
  • Discuss the solution. What can you offer that no-one else can? How will your experience and insight add value? Don’t be tempted to repeat this section in every pitch - each client will need a slightly different approach.
  • Discuss your business model and explain why this is to your clients’ advantage.
  • Introduce the team. Think carefully about who would work on the account, and make sure their relevant experience is clearly stated. When writing bios, find a standard approach and length, and don’t be afraid to let a little personality show, but try to avoid coming across as overconfident or intimidating.
  • Weave the ‘big idea’ or one thing you want the audience to remember all the way through the pitch book.
  • Keep the conclusion short and to the point - reiterating the main points.

Use authentic and engaging language

Simple, clear language shows confidence and builds trust. Using jargon is tempting and it’s not detrimental, but simple language is refreshing. When everyone else is using the same stuffy language, keeping it simple is a differentiator in itself.

Make sure your pitch book is accurate and up to date

Sloppiness is a terrible reflection on your brand. Double-check dates and figures, check spelling and look for typos. Make sure the document is laid out properly and the font is the same style and size throughout. It sounds basic, but so many people get it wrong - especially when the pressure is on!

Creating a content library is a good idea, as long as it is maintained properly. Keep it updated and make sure that everything in it has been approved for use. This will ensure that everyone uses the same information and reduces the risk of out-dated or error-strewn content being included in big pitches.

Break it up with visuals

Graphs and charts are a great way to get some types of information across, but they should only be included if they are relevant.

Use logos rather than just names when sharing your client list or in case studies.

Personalise, personalise, personalise

Using the same pitch book for more than one pitch is a big no-no. It’s lazy. This is your chance to show that you have taken the time and done due diligence to understand your prospect’s business and requirements. Put your best people on the job and demonstrate the intelligence and insight your firm can offer.

Content automation software can save a lot of time, enabling you to spend more on personalising your pitch book and adding value to it, and less time looking for and correcting information.

In conclusion

Pitch books play an important role in winning new business, but often they aren’t given the time and attention they deserve. Time is always in short supply when preparing for a pitch, but by following the steps above and investing in a good proposal automation tool, you can spend that time personalising and perfecting your pitch book rather than scurrying around looking for information, or wasting billable hours asking for it at the last minute.

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