It’s funny how something like a simple comment can remind you of a little secret to winning the pitch.

winning new business pitch memo

Outline how you will win your next new business pitch.

I was in a meeting with a great ad agency and they mentioned a brand we won many years ago. One you’ve all heard of… a big brand. The pitch was outstanding. One for the books. We won going away. And the agency was the dark horse no one thought had a chance. A win that transformed the agency into the powerhouse it is today.

After the conversation I went back and looked up my notes for that pitch and this is what I wrote to the team prior to the pitch, right after they called me for help. I pointed out that an early start is critical to winning the account. Below is part of the memo I sent to them prior to my visit to teach them Presenting To Win. In this old memo could be the secret to winning any pitch.


This memo outlines the steps needed to win and details what will be accomplished with Sanders Consulting Group’s first visit to your firm.

Key to Winning the New Business Pitch:

Two ways to fail in a pitch: not starting early enough, and not sticking your neck out far enough. The key to winning is a) A strong desire to win. b) Start early. c) Believe in the process. d) Set the plan early. e) Execute the plan. That’s it. Follow this guideline and we’ll win.

Job #1: Set the winning strategy: We suggest a strategy of winning at every stage. This means the agency needs to start strong, as it has done so far, and then the firm needs to command the lead at the next round and keep the lead going into the final presentation. If the firm gives the best presentation, it will win. A dark horse firm that gives the best presentation in the end usually doesn’t win the account in reviews such as this. You have to win every stage AND give the best presentation.

Winning The Next Stage:

Our outline and POV about how to win at the next stage – here are the key points:

  1. Believe that the other agencies let down their guard at client briefings. And this is a big disappointment to clients. The good chemistry the firm has established with the prospect needs to be maintained and heightened.
  2. Go into the briefing, either by phone or in person, prepared. Work off of a carefully planned Question Book which you share with the account. We will help you prepare this.
  3. Tantalize the prospect with a strong process at the next meeting. The process is the same one the agency will show her in the finals. Demonstrate how work has already begun, where the firm is now, what the agency is finding out to be true about the prospect’s brand, and ask her for feedback on what the firm has done so far.
  4. The process the firm needs to show has to be large and highly visual. The field results need to be highly impressive for the personality profile of Drivers/Headlines. Note: This is the only field work, research, that Drivers/Headlines sit still for.
  5. The feedback the firm gets at the next round usually contains all the keys needed to win the final presentation.
  6. We must review the “cast” or pitch team for the next meeting and train them on how to win at the next briefing. This includes a review of how the first meeting will go, what to expect and how to win.

Winning Going Away:

In the final presentation your number one goal is to crush the competition. Fill the room with your brand, energy, ideas and excitement. Set it up so when you leave you’ll suck all the oxygen out of the place, leaving the other agencies gasping for air. The key to winning the final presentation is to give the BEST presentation.

What needs to be done prior to the formal presentation:

  • How to set the room up
  • How to present in TV time
  • What to wear and what not to wear
  • How to be the Pros from Dover
  • How to win in the first 15 minutes
  • What to do with the final 30 minutes after your break
  • Outline the key chunks of the presentation
  • Who will present each chunk
  • How much time for each chunk
  • How to sparkle in the beginning
  • What the social time needs to look like
  • Key opening remarks
  • How to show capabilities in 7 minutes or less
  • How to introduce the key problem
  • How we would solve the problem if it had the account
  • How to make the “Good News” announcement
  • How to demonstrate the work done so far
  • Who will play Mutt and Jeff (2 creatives needed, interviews to be done)
  • How to introduce the black box
  • How to introduce the three creative approaches that “solves” their problem
  • How to set up next steps
  • How the break looks
  • How to win the final 20 minutes with the 10 Question Close
  • What the score card looks like

This same approach won the $300 million account for (brand X). It also won the $190 million (Brand Y) account. In each time, the agency won at every stage and then won both accounts. It should be noted that the agency had no experience in either category. The process won.

If you aren’t sure about what some of the tips outlined above are about, or why we would suggest doing some of the above, I suggest you give us a call at 412.897.9329 or email us at [email protected] before your next pitch!


Photo by Dwayne Bent and used under creative commons.