5 Inside Pitches – The Jolt! from ckwrites 10.08.2014

Five Inside Pitches

The pitch is the heart of new business.

Sandy Koufax, Game 4, 1963 World Series. Courtesy LA DWP

The Boys of October have taken the field presenting us with a timely opportunity to consider pitching as it relates to event marketing, as well of course as our national pastime. Today’s overly extended metaphor is dedicated to a diehard Nats fan (condolences), two certified Cards fans (props – 4 in a row is special!) and my childhood memories of Koufax, Drysdale and the boys in blue.

No promises but I think you’ll find some ideas that will help you drive in a few more runs.

Since you can’t tell the players without a scorecard, let’s start with a scouting report.

The Outlook for New Business is Good, But Agencies Still Struggle 

This article from The Agency Post comes complete with an infographic that you can hang in the lunch room – I mean the bullpen. The findings are from a recent RSW/US survey that polled a mix of senior executives and agency execs – no word on the sample size.

The conclusion? The business is out there, but it’s becomingly increasingly fragmented. More and more specialty shops, boutiques and veteran freelance teams continue to enter the marketplace, challenging the established full service players. Event marketing agencies must also manage clients looking for specific capabilities instead of a turn-key offer.

How tough is the pitching?

The average tenure of a new business professional is less than 2 years.

66% say their new business hire was unsuccessful because they lacked a methodology.

71% of agencies say that new business was more difficult because it is harder to break through to prospects.

No matter your game, you’ve got to get on base to make anything happen. Which means that your first at bat is a critical predictor of future success.

Nailing the First 5 Minutes of a Business Conversation

Sharon Gillenwater and the team at Boardroom Insiders spend a lot of time looking at IT buyers. She quotes an IDC forecast that makes it clear that someone has moved a big chunk of the cheese.

“…As more IT spending clusters around a new generation of competitive advantage solutions — many of them at the core of major industry transformation and disruption — IT budget control will continue to shift beyond the CIO and IT department into the hands of the line-of-business executives.”

This is very much what Silicon Valley marketer Geoffrey Moore described in his 1991 classic, Crossing The Chasm. Early adopters (who tend to be LOB not IT regardless of industry) have always, and continue to be willing to pay a premium for strategic advantage.

Sharon writes that they attended a conference in which a COO flatly stated that he now gives vendors exactly 5 minutes to demonstrate that their value. Miss one or more of these and you will strike out…

1. Did they do their homework? On him, his company and his business initiatives.

2. Do speak his language? Are they offering up an idea that can support one of his business initiatives?

3. Can they monetize the value of what they are proposing?

Tall order? Yes. Read the rest of the post to learn The Winning Formula.

Looking at these criteria its no wonder that all-stars tell you that hard work and preparation are the keys to their success. But really – don’t most of the successful people you know say that it is more important to be lucky than smart?

How to Make Your Own Luck

I am sure you’ve also heard that luck happens when opportunity meets preparation. But since we’re talking baseball here, let’s move from Calvinism to game theory.

A rarely talked about population of equally hardworking, talented individuals massively outnumbers the famous high fliers. Perhaps you are one of these hidden strivers. What is one of the main differences between you and the super elite?


According to Dr. Christian Jarrett who studies these things, it turns out there are two kinds of luck (Note maybe three if you count bad luck…) Anyway, the first kind of luck is one that you have some influence over. The kind you go to Spring Training for every year. To wit:

…The more times you rehearse a presentation, the better it will be. Rehearsing does not guarantee a successful pitch, but there is a predictable relationship between practice and outcome.

And the other kind? Now you’re talking about the game changing Black Swan. His advice is to acknowledge the possibility:

By deliberately allowing some risk into your life, you increase the opportunities for good things to happen.

Influence those probabilities that are predictable, and make yourself as flexible as possible to cope with, or benefit from, those that are not.

Of course getting on base is just the beginning. Then you’ve got to score. Which means knowing how to put on the right play.

5 Really Bad Plays

Among the companies that make their living teaching sales and negotiation, John Doerr and the RAIN Group stand out. If you want to keep the rally going, you are going to need to avoid these 5 unforced errors:

  1. Let the buyer make the first offer.
  2. Keep emotions out of negotiations.
  3. Always use a win-win approach.
  4. Always get what you can.
  5. Always hold your ground on price.

The good news is that the slide deck comes with both an explanation and a better alternative.

Here’s an extra base hit for you – The Introvert’s Guide To Successful Negotiating. It’s one of the better articles I’ve seen on the subject of getting what you want.

Speaking of getting who and what you want, Yankee great Derek Jeter just hung up his cleats. He is widely liked because he is perceived to be graceful in victory and defeat.

The Law of Unintended Consequences

Here’s a surprise. Not everybody loves a winner.

According to Dr. Srini Pillay, M.D., the CEO of NeuroBusiness Group “executives and entrepreneurs vent their frustrations with the unexpected negative consequences of their success — such as their anxiety over being able to maintain their winning streak, the fear that they will be set up to fail, and the envy others feel toward them for their good fortune.”

It turns out that these fears are based on solid data. Here’s how to enjoy stealing home, turning a 5-4-3 double play or pitching a no-hitter.

Don’t do victory laps. People judge expressive winners as arrogant compared to inexpressive winners and are less likely to want to befriend them. i.e. Remember to tip your hat and ask your team to take a bow.

Focus on the value you bring, not on winning per se. To counteract this fear of someone else wishing you will fail, focus on the value that you bring. i.e. Maybe this is the time to talk about one for the Gipper – or new opportunities for the agency.

Stay in the “here and now.” This means enjoying, accepting, and motivating ourselves with our successes. i.e. Focus on the new opportunities your success is creating.

Reach higher. i.e. Ask yourself, how will you move the ball forward from this new starting point.

A post on pitching would not be complete without a bit of wisdom from a pitcher, in this case, Nuke Laloosh:

“A good friend of mine used to say, ‘This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains.’ Think about that for a while.”

That’s it from Taos. Good luck to your team!