Do you even need one?
You’re probably thinking… What? Of course, I need a pitch process! It’s the done thing, isn’t it? For the most part that’s true, many businesses benefit from a pitch step during their procurement, but is it right for yours? Think about your procurement carefully – do you already have suppliers that you prefer and trust to do the work? In that case, why go through what can often be an arduous process just to reach the most obvious conclusion? If you already have a relationship with strong providers then have a direct conversation with them. An open discussion gives you the opportunity to get all your questions answered and further develop a pre-established relationship. Not only that but you can skip a step in your procurement and get yourself that bit closer to your end goal.
It may be that you’re not sure who can meet your needs, or you’re required to go through the formal process. In that case, fear not – we’ve pulled together our best business minds to give you some advice on how to get the most out of your pitch process.
Who should be there?
First and foremost, those who attend your pitch process will be the deciding factor on how beneficial your experience will be. Both your team and your suppliers need to be taken into consideration. Take a look over these do’s and don’ts on who to put on your invite list…
- Don’t overdo it! – Narrow your suppliers down to a few favourites. This is the next stage in a filtering process, let the written proposals guide you towards the strongest suppliers.
- Don’t invite people for the sake of it! – Only invite suppliers to pitch if they are a genuine contender. If you’ve got reservations, you’re likely to be closed off to hearing their pitch fairly. Time is valuable, make sure you’re putting yours to good use by seeing the right people.
- Do make it just for VIP’s! – Keep the members of your team to a small number, only bringing those who are integral to the decision-making process.
Now that you know who to invite, you need to think about logistics. We cannot stress enough how important it is to not have all of your pitches on the same day. It may seem faster to get all of them over at once but remember, this isn’t meant to be a chore! You’re trying to obtain a service that you feel will benefit your business, finding the right supplier for you is of the utmost importance. Take your time, see companies individually so you can consider the pros and cons properly and recharge in between. It’s both respectful to the suppliers involved, as it shows you value their time, and it stops you from getting bogged down by too many pitches and burning out!
What are your expectations?
So, the emails have been sent and the dates are set. Your potential suppliers are off prepping to show you what they’ve got. But have you given them enough to meet your expectations? Check out our ABC’s to be sure:
- Ask for what you want – Make your criteria clear from your invitation. Let your suppliers know what you want to hear! If there are particular elements, such as hosting or support, that matter most to you then highlight them. You’ll spend less time hearing about things you aren’t interested in and it gives your suppliers clear direction.
- Be realistic – You may not be seeing the best of a company if you give them fifteen minutes to present on twenty talking points and go over designs. Be aware of what you’re asking of people. If you want a lot of detail, give time for it but equally don’t ask for hours of work. You won’t want to sit through it and your supplier will exhaust themselves trying to present it!
- Converse – Treat your pitch like a conversation and consultation. It’s more beneficial for both parties if it’s not a one-way experience. Ask questions as you think of them so that your suppliers can answer in real-time and create a back and forth dialogue.
It’s pitch day and you’ve got your first supplier coming in – show a level of consideration by preparing a list of questions ahead of time that cover all the things you need to know. As the pitch goes along you can cross off anything you’ve heard the answer to so you know everything is being covered.
If your list is all crossed off – be flexible! Your questions are there as a guideline but if there is more you want to know, ask it. It’s good to ask questions and use this opportunity to really get to know your supplier and what they’re offering.
What happens next?
You’ve seen everyone you need to see and your pitches have been a huge success (we hope!). Now is the time to consolidate everything that you’ve learned and weigh up the best offering. Consider the factors that are most important to your business and rank them for level of importance. Equally, rank your suppliers in order of how well they meet these criteria. This will help you narrow down who is most fitting for your business.
While you’re going through this process, don’t leave your suppliers in the lurch! Be clear with everyone involved on what your next steps are. Give a clear timeline of when they can expect to hear back, when your final outcome will be agreed and if there’s anything else you need from them in the meantime.
Once your decision is made, be considerate. Suppliers appreciate honest feedback – it’s the only way we get better! Taking the time to share this both shows you value their time and keeps the door open should you want to revisit working with them.