7 questions to ask the client after a pitch

Posted on: July 6, 2020

With economic confidence weakening over recent months, companies are increasingly using competitive tenders and pitches to reassess whether they have the ‘right’ suppliers for their business.  For some that means finding cheaper providers, for others it means seeking a different skill-set, product offering or added value.

Typically clients like to have several bids to choose from, although of late we’ve seen bigger initial invite lists being approached for a pitch. During the pitch process the client then scales down to a shortlist of three or four to compete in the final stages.


Many rivers to cross

This means there are a lot of hoops to jump through in today’s pitches and participation in them continues to require a sizeable amount of time and effort.

We’ve mentioned in the past how important it is to make an initial evaluation upon receiving an invitation to pitch.  This means carefully assessing whether that time and effort is worth investing. If you feel your company is just being invited as an ‘also-ran’ and has little competitive edge over its rivals in the pitch, then it is sensible to graciously decline the invitation in favour of other more attractive opportunities.

Because whatever pitches you go for, you need to give them your very best shot.  This will be tough, given all the normal day to day business commitments you have to honour and undertake, but is essential if you want to have any chance of success.


Vital insight – win or lose

To help you increase those chances of success over time it is incredibly helpful, win or lose, to get a debrief on your team’s pitch performance from the client.

If you’ve been unsuccessful, this will help to flag the areas you should improve on in the future.  If you’ve been successful, it will help to highlight your strengths which you can capitalise on and finesse in other opportunities.

Often a client is more open about why you won a pitch, and yet few successful companies find out what it was exactly that helped them clinch the deal.  This insight is hugely valuable to help them replicate their success and strengthen their competitive edge going forward.


7 pitch debrief questions

Here are a handful of questions we recommend you build into your post-pitch debrief with the client. There are others, and contact us if you’re interested, but these give you a flavour of some of the key areas to explore.

  1. How did we perform against your criteria?
  2. What did you like about our pitch submission?
  3. What did you not like about our pitch submission?
  4. Did your impression of us change during the pitch process? If so why and how?
  5. Overall, how did we compare with the other bids?
  6. Where did we excel/fall down during the pitch process?
  7. How did our prices compete with others?


Selecting the right person for your debrief

Whoever does the debrief needs to be impartial (and certainly not defensive) in their discussion with the client.  The more comfortable the client feels in answering the questions, the more they’ll reveal. Increasingly companies are turning to external providers to conduct the debrief, as this demonstrates that impartiality and reassures the client of objectivity.


Next steps

Following on from that discussion, it is important that the feedback is circulated widely in the relevant sections of the business to improve future pitch performance.

Pitch debriefs invariably highlight useful learning points and it’s important to act on these quickly.  Contact us for guidance on how to interpret your pitch debrief findings and make the most from your pitch experience.

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