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How to be Pitch Perfect

- By Andrew Morris 

Whether we are presenting our company to a potential partner, a bank, a customer or whoever, getting it right makes the difference between winning and losing. Here’s a handy check-list:


Who’s on our Team? Agree roles and a team leader

Know their Team. Who is the ultimate decision maker?

Is the brief and criteria for selection clear? If not, try to renegotiate it. If they resist, consider withdrawing.

Where, when and how long? Get the logistics right. Documentation, material and format. What information will we leave behind?

Who else is pitching? Know the enemy. What’s the running order?

Dress Code. Respect theirs but stay true to your own style and image.

  Continue reading →

Top Tips from the Pitch Doctor

The word ‘pitching’ is entering everyday business vocabulary, thanks to TV programmes like Dragon’s Den and The Apprentice. But where does pitching fit into the world of real businesses? In short, we can define a pitch as any professional interaction where you present your business, your products or your services to someone and ask them to make an investment or a buying decision as a result.

You’ll already find many valuable resources available through the Academy for Chief Executives to help you drive your business, but without good pitching skills you won’t have a business to run because you won’t have any clients. And while you may not see yourself as a salesperson, and you may want to let your products speak for themselves, most people will admit to losing customers simply because a competitor did a better job of selling their business. Continue reading →

Pitching to win – do you have the right proposition?

- By Phil Shipperlee

It’s all very well honing how you’re going to pitch your proposition to prospective customers, but have you stopped to think whether you’re putting the cart before the horse? What about the proposition itself? Is it the best you can do with your resources and capabilities? Is it what the market and your customers actually want?

We all know how fast markets are changing and how customer expectations and buying behaviour has been transformed by the internet over the past decade. So how does your proposition reflect that? Do you need new products, do you need to re-brand, do you need to innovate or try to disrupt the market?

For any business to succeed, it needs firm foundations. The right market, right products and proposition, right routes to market and the right competitive strategy. But how do you know if you’ve got these in place? Here are a couple of tools you can use to help you find out before you’re put on the spot in a pitch situation. Continue reading →

The Human Factor

- By Kate Nightingale

To win new business you need to stand out from the crowd. And to be honest the best way to stand out is to create rapport and human connection. At the end of the day ‘People buy People’ and whatever service or product you’re selling there will be many other companies with a similar offering. So if you don’t connect on a deeper human level, you won’t be bought.

That’s why pitching is less about your actual presentation and more about people behind it – and why chemistry is such a critical factor in winning business. The human factor is what will differentiate you from their competition, far more so than having great ideas or a strong track record. Continue reading →

Case Study: A Global Journey

Malcolm Miller is group Managing Director of Wiltshire-based RTS Group, an automotive learning and development agency, which trades across Europe, South Africa and the Middle East. Established in 1989, it employs 50 people and uses a further 100 associates.

The company specialises in helping automotive manufacturers develop frontline staff working in their dealerships. Clients include well-known manufacturers such as Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, Mazda and BMW. RTS devises, designs and delivers a wide range of learning solutions that improve the knowledge and skills of these frontline, customer-facing staff. These are delivered using methods ranging from one-to-one and classroom learning, through to elearning using smart phones, tablets or online tools.

“What we do isn’t technical training, and it’s not really the softer end of learning development,” Malcolm explains. “It’s about improving performance. It’s about improving sales, customer service and the profitability of dealers. That sounds fairly hard edged but it’s all to do with people skills in sales and customer service or management.” Continue reading →

10 Speaker Gems for February

  1. Know where you are going. If there is a light mist in the pulpit there will be a heavy fog in the pew (Mark Fritz)
  2. Listen to your inner voice – what you say to yourself is just as important as what you say to others (Steve Smith)
  3. If presented with a difficult question, think ABC. Acknowledge, bridge and communicate what you intended to communicate (Michael Dodd)
  4. Marketing is no longer about what you say – it’s about what they say! (Grant Leboff)
  5. You are what you think about (Brian Mayne)
  6. Don’t just give people your values – connect with what they value                   (Graeme Codrington)
  7. Ninety per cent of the friction in daily life is caused by the wrong tone of voice     (Jane Gunn)
  8. Business is a lot like tennis – those who don’t serve well, lose! (Derek Williams)
  9. Take responsibility – remember the ten most important two-letter words of all time….if it is to be, it is up to me! (Phil Jesson)
  10. Good companies are never expensive even though they might charge a lot (Mike Wilkinson)

You can never be sure how your pitch is going to be received!

pitch perfect

© Marty Bucella,

The Risk Genie

- By Andrew B Morris

If there’s one thing we can be sure about over the coming year, it is that the business climate will remain uncertain.

dec-001_240Our attitude to risk is often the most divisive issue to emerge in the board room. The fear of failure, of damage to reputation and wealth freezes us into a state where we cannot move forward for fear of going backward. But unless we are growing we are shrinking, both as individuals and businesses.

So how can we overcome these demons, balancing attitude with altitude?

Scenario plan: Visualise and map out the downside. Is it really so scary?

Remove judgement: If we separate the perception of others we will be less afraid of risk.

Choose language: Replace fear of failure with fear of not succeeding.

View risk as a learning experience. We cannot fail, we can only learn.

Confidence conquers. Risk is a state of mind. There is no certainty in life. If you want it enough it will happen.  Continue reading →

Authentic Optimism

- By Simon Clarkson

Optimism and realism can sometimes conflict, yet both are vital for improving performance as well as maintaining motivation. So how do we maintain a positive outlook whilst dealing with the tough questions and issues that need to be addressed to create a step change in performance?

The difficulties businesses face are greater than ever with the competitive environment commanding the need for greater efficiency, performance and differentiation. Add to that the fact that we are only slowly emerging from the most difficult economic environment for almost half a century, and we can begin to understand the challenge that leaders face in motivating staff and maintaining energy whilst also retaining a focus on the need for change and improvement.

dec-005-2In times of change, processes and project plans are only as good as the people driving them. As Napoleon put it, “a leader is a dealer in hope”. So it is their behaviour that will ultimately deliver the results. Individual mindset and engagement are vital drivers of sustaining the momentum of new behaviours to drive performance.

It is more important than ever for leaders to influence people positively whilst maintaining the vital authenticity needed for people to truly believe in them. False optimism has been found to be as damaging to morale as pessimism itself.

Continue reading →

Big Data: Big Opportunity?

- By Mike Fish

Big Data is much talked about and poorly understood. Indeed it has often been likened to “teenage sex – everyone thinks everyone else is doing it, but few actually are”. But in 2015, it really is time to stop dreaming and start doing.

Fuelled by tech firms looking to refresh and extend their markets and driven by technical solutions looking for problems, it is hardly surprising that the business justification for Big Data has been drowned out. This is extraordinarily short term, since there is no doubt that Big Data can bring real value to businesses, whatever their sector.

The problem is just that this is not a technology wave – it’s an opportunity for business transformation enabled by technology. And this is the reason why using the language of technology is not convincing for business leaders who want to know how it can help their bottom line.

There are five broad types of business applications that are directly enabled by Big Data.  Continue reading →