Win Without Pitching Manifesto

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Notes from Win Without Pitching Manifesto
by Blair Enns

12 Proclamations

First Proclamation: We Will Specialize

Expertise is the only valid basis for differentiating ourselves from the competition

  • Not personality
  • Not Process
  • Not Price

When there are few alternatives to our expertise we can

  • set the price
  • set the terms of engagement
  • take control in a manner to better ensure ideas/advice have desired impact

foundation of business development success and of business success

Fewer alternatives = more power in our hands

3 Steps of Positioning:

  • we must choose a focus
  • articulate that focus via a consistent claim of expertise
  • work to add the missing skills, capabilities, and processes necessary to support our new claim

What business are we in?

I am in the business of helping businesses to identify and solve their problems.

Would you like to have the ability to see the workings of your business through a new lens? An outsiders perspective to reveal hidden issues and solutions that familiarity has obscured.

Our ability to control the engagement diminishes with time --->>> Need to ENTER with the MOST control possible

Second Proclamation: We will replace presentation with conversation

Practitioners do not present.

Stars do not audition.

Step One: Improving Collaboration with Existing Cliens

Must learn how to invite the client in without allowing him to drive?

- Establishing and communicating the rule of the engagement

Rules of Collaboration

  • Strategy First
    NO creative development until the challenge has been diagnosed and the strategy prescribed and agreed to.
  • Continuous Reference to Strategy
    Before presenting any creativity we will review the agreed-upon strategy with the client
  • Freedom of Execution
    Welcome clients input on the strategy - in exchange - we need the freedom to explore various ways of executing it.
  • Fewer Options of Better Quality
    Will direct all discussions about creativity back to STRATEGY and ask if we are accomplishing our goals.
  • Only We Present Our Work
    Our work will only get presented with the involvement of personnel from our firm. (Not allowing our outside perspective to be saddled with bias or hidden agendas.)

the client and ultimately any consistency of success DEMANDS IT!!

Step Two: Eliminating Big Reveals in the Buying Cycle

We will NOT present as it is a tool for swaying while we need conversation (the tool of weighing)

  • we determine wif both parties would be well served by working together
  • lowers buyer resistance

Framed by our mission, We Pursue Our Objective

Mission: Position
Our mission is to position ourselves as the expert practitioner in the mind of the prospective client
Objective: Determine Fit
Simply to see if there is a fit between the client's need and our expertise suitable enough to take the next step.

Our Mission is to Position; Our Objective is to determine a fit

We must NEVER allow ourselves to be placed in this presenter/compiler role where the terms and next steps of the relationship are DICTATED TO US

HOW we sell shapes WHAT we sell

To be truly Free of Presenting we must be the expert practitioner (i.e. do this as a doctor or lawyer would) through conversation and collaboration--NOT through presentations

Third Proclamation: We will diagnose before we prescribe

4 Phases in Client Engagements

  • Diagnose the problem/opportunity
  • Prescribe a therapy
  • Apply the therapy
  • reapply the therapy as necessary

Never agree to begin working on a creative solution to a problem we have not fully explored.

- When presented with self-diagnosis our reaction must be, "Yes, you may be correct, but let's find out for sure. - To Reverse the trend of "self-diagnosis" we must map out and formalize our own diagnostic process... Then we must make the case that the consistency of our Outcomes is rooted in the strength of our process, whereby we MUST be allowed to employ it.


Just because it's in a clients nature to lead, doesn't mean he should be allowed to do so at all times.

If design truly is a process, then we will define and guard that process and we will walk away from those clients and situation, like the pitch, where the process is dictated to us, or where we are otherwise asked to propose solutions without a proper diagnosis.

Polite Battle for Control

Does the client see us as the expert who merits the reins of the engagement? Or are we seen as the order-taker supplier that needs to be directed?

Process our Own Formalized Diagnostic Methods (our own or not)

  • formalized way of beginning the engagement
  • follows we would demand to be allowed to follow our own process
  • If client "self-diagnosis" we'd be obligated to VALIDATE that just as any other professional would
  • Act of prescription without diagnosis = Malpractice

Fourth Proclamation: We will rethink what it means to sell

We can not be in business without embracing sells.

Salesperson: Facilitator of Next Steps
Selling is about determining a fit between the buyer's need and the seller's supply and then facilitating a next step

*Must sell as the respectful facilitator.

Proper Selling In 3 Steps:

Help the unaware

Client's motivation (and our role) evolve as they progress through the buying cycle.

Buying is Changing: Selling is Change Management

The 'BEST salespeople are respectful, selective facilitators of change.

  • Should be able to succinctly articulated our expertise and concisely describe (to the client) who we help and how - over the phone.
    • Help future clients through the dissemination of our thought leadership.
      • Our writings in our area of expertise.

Real Thought Leadership

to educate, NOT to persuade. (Future clients should be smarter for reading it and we should be smarter for writing it and hopefully, the client will have guidance (from us) that may be helpful to use within his problem.)

Experts Write

  • Are we retreading well-worn ground?
  • Are we delving deeply into meaningful subjects for wisdom that truly helps?

Writing is our way forward (long-term approach) and requires patience - but is the only respectful, effective way with the client who says no and doesn't see the fit between his need and our expertise.

Inspire the interested

For client interested in the opportunity in from of him but not yet intent on taking action.

GOAL: is to inspire the prospect to form the intent to solve his problem - NOT to inspire him to hire you.

Forms of Inspiration (Show What "Could Be")

  • Portfolios
  • Case Studies
  • Website
  • Brochures
  • Sales Collateral
  • In-person reviews

Reassuring those who have formed intent

Emergence of Doubt
we lean toward inspiration once again when we SHOULD REASSURE

Shift from: organic approach to Logic & Consistency of a defined approach

Answer Questions - These are of the utmost importance to the client.

Alternative forms of Reassurance

Closing - all about reassurance Instead of providing requested proposal

  • phased engagements
  • pilot projects
  • money-back guarantees
  • case studies framed in defined methodology

KEY: To respond to the motivation and not necessarily the request.

4 Priorities of Winning New Businesses

1st Win without Pitching

  • Claim business before its defined competitive selection process
    • pitted against pears
    • Give thinking away for free

2nd Derail the Pitch

  • goal to get the client to put his process aside and take an alternative 1st step with us.

3rd Gain the Inside Track

  • If can't do #1 or #2 - then now to get an edge over the competition within the process
    • only do so with perspective that EVERY competitive bid process has a preferred option.
    • endeavor to be the one on the inside track
  • Ask for concessions
  • Ask for access to decision makers
  • We negotiate what we will/will not write in proposal/show in presentation
  • If given inside track - Makes sense for us to proceed.

4th Walk Away

  • When we can't do #1, 2, or 3

Fifth Proclamation: We will do with words what we used to do with paper

A proposal is the words that come out of mouths and that written documentation of these words is a contract

  • we are leaving behind the pitch, the presentation and persuasion
  • we are abandoning the written proposal

We write the contract -> it serves as public verification of agreement we have formed with the client in conversation.

  • This is ONLY produced once an agreement has been reached.

Overinvesting creates buying resistance

  • spending hours on a lengthy written proposal (that diagnoses and prescribes for free) sends the message that we NEED the client's business
  • gives the client the power in the relationship
  • makes it difficult for the client to be honest with you
  • No is the best answer to expect. Often client will stall or defer or deliver maybes when we appear to be heavily invested.
  • Operate from the Practitioner's Position
    • Not overinvested
    • Not trying to talk client into hiring us
    • Invite client to say no early & often

Why Client Asks for a Proposal

  • To keep the hordes at bay
    • provides something upon which to determine the next step
    • dealing with undifferentiated firms
    • GOAL: to have client recognize expertise & crack open facade of proposal process & agree to a proper conversation
      Question of Merit: Is the expertise of our firm deserving of such access?
      • value or expertise not recognized then we have failed - either to build true expertise, to demonstrate it or by pursuing an opportunity that is not properly aligned with it.
  • To compare
    • allows undifferentiated firms to be compared on their likenesses and differences
      • wins are based on: service, personality, price or beginning to solve the client's problem within the proposal
    • reduces each firm to samples of its work, ill-informed guesses as possible strategies and hourly rates
  • To measure value
    • Value = Quality/Price
    • client can either overweight what he can measure (price)
    • client can ask us to deliver the idea (for free) in an effort to determine its quality
      • by following the 3rd proclamation - we can not do this. Either we replace the proposal with a conversation or we walk away.
  • To gain inspiration
    • mistaking interest for intent (most costly business development mistake)
    • If clients intent to act has not yet been anchored then the written proposal will not help propel him forward.
      • better of exploring previous work example or examining with him his competitor's work or best practices from further afield.
      • Must NOT mistake seeking of inspiration for the will to move forward.
  • To stall
    • The answer is NO, but the client feels pushed or is reluctant to say it (because we are not inviting honesty?) and uses the written proposal to support not saying anything.
  • To shop around for a better price
    • We are under NO obligation to provide client with reference of services, process and price for them to find someone else to do what we would do, the way we would do it, but cheaper.
  • RFP R.I.P
    • If we have failed to make the case for having a conversation with an expert then we walk away.

Getting Paid to Write Proposals

  • Charge for our Diagnostic Work (just as lawyers, doctors, & accountant do)
    • may be a brand audit, discovery session, outside research we commission
    • outcome of diagnostic phase is 2 parts: findings (deliver our diagnostic discoveries) & recommendations (include a plan to move forward, complete with timeline and budget)

Contracts and Proposals

  • Proposals = words that come out of our mouths
  • Once agreement on proposal --> write up contract for signature
  • Make it CLEAR to ourselves and our clients: we are Not in the proposal writing business & will no longer document what we ourselves should do --> Propose.

Sixth Proclamation: We will be selective

Instead of seeking clients, we will selectively and respectfully pursue perfect fits.

  • Need quality clients of the right size, not more unsophisticated or inappropriate clients

Seventh Proclamation: We will build expertise rapidly

Eighth Proclamation: We will NOT solve problems BEFORE we are paid

Ninth Proclamation: We will address issues of money early

Tenth Proclamation: We will refuse to work at a loss

Eleventh Proclamation: We will CHARGE MORE

Twelfth Proclamation: We will hold our heads high