Five slides in and the prospect has barely been acknowledged. Thirty slides later, they are woken up with the conclusion: invest with us! In part I of this story, it was argued that successful pitches begin by focusing on the prospect. The best use the newspaper-style pyramid (see figure 3). Instead of headlines, they provide “win themes”- simple and powerful arguments that meet prospects’ needs – whose benefits support the offer. Their key points are reinforced with images, captions and short bullet-point lists. And details, evidence and data are available for those who want them. Figure 2. Structure of a successful pitch Many sell-side brokers have worked this out. Their research starts with conclusions and follows with information supporting their recommendations. Details are provided at the back. Following this pattern in a pitch will ensure that key messages stick. A set of great examples of how to master this technique is found in the book, Best Practices for Equity Research Analysts, by James Valentine.
Summary execution Summaries are an excellent way to present a complex offer in a simple and convincing way. In written form, the most obvious are executive summaries. Experienced pitch writers develop this at the start of the process, in skeleton form. By the time the pitch is finished, “win themes” and other essential elements of the offer percolate up into a pithy, headline-led summary. A good executive summary should always highlight the four Ps: people, philosophy, process and performance. Some decision-makers will read only the executive summaries of several pitches when forming a shortlist. Those that are simple, client-focused and benefit-led have high survival rates. A similar concept can shape the rest of your content. Each logical section can be summarised powerfully by using “key points” boxes at the start of the chapters, list the main ideas covered. Details can be laid out in a mini-pyramid. Finally, an excellent way to communicate simply and powerfully is through “pull-quotes”. These pithy, benefit-focused snippets can be used to break up lengthy sections of text. Usually set in white space in large, bold type, they communicate key messages in an arresting and memorable way.
Don ’t ruin it now You’ve gone to the trouble of understanding a super fund. Your focus is on delightful benefits backed by evidence. Drowning them in an ocean of words, pages or slides is the last thing you should do now. Adding surplus material will dilute your position rather than strengthen it. Use the pyramid principle, executive summaries and diagrams and keep your pitch “as simple as it can be, but no simpler”, as Albert Einstein said. The reasons to buy your services will be dominant and memorable. And your convinced audience will know exactly where to look if they need more data to justify their decision. *Matt Milgrom is a key principal at Tender Success, a boutique consultancy for helping Australian organisations win more pitches, proposals and tender responses. Daniel Grioli is an investment analyst at FuturePlus, providing investment management expertise to industry superannuation funds. Part 1 of this article was published in the August 2011 issue of Investment Magazine.