Right Message, Right Audience!

Right Pitch, Right Time!

First, let me pose a question. Think back to the last time you purchased something that involved choosing between two suppliers. How about a kitchen or a carpet? Did you confuse the need to buy this item with the choice of who to buy it from? “I haven’t spoken to Bob for a while, what can I buy off him? Oh, I need a new carpet” is, let’s face it, an unusual train of thought. The normal thinking process would be: decide I need something, decide what I need, then select the vendor.

When we are doing an m62 STAT project we often run up against this issue; salespeople prepare presentations and don’t recognize that the first question that needs to be asked is, “What are we selling and to whom?” For example, I am working on a pitch for a client in the IT sector, who is hoping to be selected when a client outsources a critical part of their IT infrastructure. One option is for the audience of this pitch to do nothing (i.e. not to outsource at all), however, a more likely option is to select a partner and outsource it to one of four companies who are capable of doing it.

The $6 million question (or in his case $60 million, since this is the value of the contract) is ‘has the audience decided that outsourcing is the only viable option or not?’ Clearly, ‘why outsource?’ is a different argument to ‘why outsource to us?’ We always treat them as separate questions and usually separate presentations dealt with in order. The major point of discussion is usually concerned with who the audience is for each presentation, since the pitch to Senior Management is different from the pitch to the senior IT people, who are probably not going to like an argument that says, “we can do this better and cheaper than you have been able to do :)”

It often makes sense to link the two value propositions. In this case the answer to the first question may be ‘cost savings’ and ‘an improvement in service levels’. It may be fairly easy to see how the outsourcing company would get the cost savings from outsourcing at all, but it may be dangerous to argue that this is the reason to select the vendor unless the difference between us and the competition is sufficient to make a difference, (e.g. ‘in house option $100m, outsource $60m, outsource to us $59m’ doesn’t really work). If they do argue this, the proof is different in each presentation; in the first presentation the proof is that they can do it cheaper than the in-house team, in the second they need to demonstrate that they are cheaper than the competition.

Improved service levels are just as difficult for the same reasons, for each of the global outsourcers are pretty good at delivering a service, it is after all what they do. Proving they can do it better than in-house is fine but proving they can beat each other is difficult. Much better to play this in the first section but to make a different argument in the competitive pitch. For example, we can provide much better analytics than the competition, which gives the in-house team more control over the service quality, a win for everybody.

Or we could just sell them some carpets…

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