Tag Archives: sales

Steps on the Relationship Ladder towards a Deal

Level of Relationship with Potential Client

Level of Relationship with Potential Client


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When to Persuade Potential Clients

Which stages does a professional service provider need to pass successfully in order to receive a new job? With disecting this process you can identify the communication needs. 

  1. Circumventing a pitch / tender
  2. Getting on the short-list
  3. Winning a pitch / tender

Circumventing a pitch / tender

Usually a new job (at least in the business of creative agencies) is pitched (I will further use the word pitch, meaning the same as tender or call for bids). Only a handful of professional service providers is invited to take part (the short-list). However, as more often seen in the classical consulting business, a pitch may also be circumvented due to two factors:

  • the professional service provider is already working for the company and the new job has been declared as an extension of the service provider’s current occupation
  • personal connections on a high management level have avoided the official purchasing process (number of members on the short-list = 1)

In order to circumvent a pitch, it is important rather to invest in connections or a high quality output; communicating your knowledge isn’t as important here.

Getting on the short-list

This is where communicating your knowledge skills might come in handy. In case you’re not already on the short-list for regular jobs, here’s your chance at joining the club: new members are mostly inserted into the short-list when the job either concerns a new field of technology / skills or an existing member is to be expelled due to past éclats. Either way, the company will search for other experts in the field, especially true though for the first reason. And this is your chance: communicate openly what you know so that you will be found in this line of business.

Winning a pitch

When you have already managed to be on the short-list, this is a no-brainer. If you don’t show off your knowledge / experience during a pitch, you can be sure that all your will seem more adept than you.


In order to get on a short-list without a very strong brand, you will need to make some of your knowledge available to everybody, just to be noticed. The knowledge published will need to be covering a fairly wide field (though only in the field of your core competencies).

However, if you’ve made it and you’re already involved in a pitch, you will need to show off a different kind of knowledge: you really need to focus on the specifics of the potential job. Hopefully, now you can show a little more than what you have already presented while trying to get onto the short-list.

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Putting Things Into Perspective

Having just started at a new company, I can talk from fresh experience: Knowledge I have gathered throughout some time has helped me to ask different questions, new questions that helped my colleagues rethink and reword. At the same time, I find that knowledge I thought was very helpful and important seems uninteresting to them – and vice versa: simple concepts can provoke amazement. 

Concerning a special service offered to their customers: all performed activities were always taken for granted since they had developed it some time ago – it seemed normal and boring. From my point of view, I’m pretty sure that no other company can offer what they (or now we) do. They had a USP kept unnoticed. 

Two days later: we now have a presales presentation that has these features highlighted. Value has been created – not really because special knowledge has been added, but because different knowledge and experience has put the existing into a new perspective.

What you need, however, is time and a culture to share the thoughts. And time to document and establish the new. In our case, we were able to assign these costs to a certain presales project. Would we have extracted a new USP if that presales project hadn’t been around?

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