Client-Centric Pitches (That Win)

Your firm may have the best value proposition… and still not win pitches if you aren’t strategically positioning your firm as the obvious, if not the only, choice.

2 Minute Read

This means making the decision a no-brainer for your clients. To do this, you need to put yourself in their shoes: clients should clearly understand what they’ll get and the required investment, be able to easily communicate your services internally, and feel confident about the real-life outcomes of the engagement. Here are strategies, complete with tips and examples, to help you achieve this:

1. Easy to Understand Pricing. Straightforward questions (“What will this cost?”) require straightforward answers. Offer pricing models that are easy to understand and, where possible, use flat fees or value-based pricing to reduce the cognitive load on your clients. They shouldn't have to use formulas to decipher how a blend of hours from various personnel might play out on a future bill and then wait for impact. Make it straightforward and stress-free to choose your firm. Tips:

- Flat Fees Models that Eliminate Your Risk Too: When it seems there are too many unknowns to offer a flat fee without taking on risk, consider pricing out flat fees by phase, where each phase’s pricing depends on the variables learned in the prior phase. This approach provides clients with a clear (and reasonable) understanding of cost and ensures you aren’t taking on all the risk either. For instance, a law firm pricing a litigation could offer a flat fee for the preliminary phase of a case, leading to a second discovery phase with the second phase depending on volume of depositions and documents.  

- Outcome-Based Pricing: Introduce pricing models tied to the achievement of specific results to reassure clients that they are paying for value and performance, and give you skin in the game. An example could be a consulting firm charging a fee based on the percentage of cost savings achieved through their recommendations or even reduced hourly pricing with a bonus at the matter’s completion hinging on results.

- Transparent Proposals: Develop proposals that are straightforward and easy to digest. Write in plain English, avoid your industry’s jargon unless dealing with an in-house expert, and get to the point. Any information that is obvious, not necessary for the decision-making process, or sounds like it could come from any of your peers should hit the cutting room floor.

- Show, Don’t Tell: Use case studies to illustrate how your pricing models have worked for similar clients. Break down the costs and outcomes in these examples to show potential clients the value they received for their investment.

2. Provide Options (Instead of Discounts). The pressure to lower fees in the face of budget-conscious clients and a saturated market for services is real. But instead, provide options so clients can get exactly what they need without waste and within their budget. Tips:

- Tiered Service Packages: Present tiered fees reflecting levels of service depth vs self-execution. More baseline pricing may include essential conclusions and advice, while more premium pricing will provide deeper execution, support, and follow up.

- Collaborative Work Models: Propose collaborative work models where your firm handles certain aspects of the project while the client’s in-house team manages others. This can reduce costs and provide clients with a sense of control over the project. For example, a consultancy could manage strategic planning while the client’s team executes operational tasks.

- Value-Added Services: Offer value-added services as part of higher investment packages. These could include exclusive access to industry reports or data, proactive assessments, or quarterly strategy sessions with a panel of experts.

- Bring it to Life: Provide case studies that show how different clients benefited from various investment levels given their priorities. For instance, showcase how a small business achieved a first phase of growth with a more basic service agreement while an enterprise company got the support they needed across functions without distracting busy employees with a more robust package.

3. Write Your Client’s Victory Speech. When pitching to a client, remember they probably need sign off or buy in; for smaller companies without multiple executives, eliminating hesitation or buyer’s remorse is equally important. Equip them with the right talking points or narrative – from how your services will solve specific problems to how seamlessly you will fit into their team. Make it easy for them to champion you and say, "We chose a great partner and made the best choice, here's why." Tips:

- Clear Value Statements or Success Stories: Provide a clear value statement that your client can easily repeat with excitement. For instance, "This partnership will reduce operational costs by 20% while removing an item from our busy executive team’s ‘to do’ list." Where you can’t estimate future outcomes, share success stories of similar clients who have benefited from your services. These stories provide a narrative and proof of concept on why to choose you. For example, a law firm might say, “we’ve represented other companies against similar shareholder suits, and have successfully dismissed 40% of these cases without even getting to discovery.”

- Do Their Job for Them: Go a step further than your peers and do the leg work for your clients by giving them a few slides or bullets they can use internally that relays the value of your services, tailored to the specific concerns and priorities of their stakeholders (e.g., C-Suite, board, investors, etc.), key points, and benefits.

- Alignment with Goals: Too often, outside experts are focused on their narrow set of expertise (e.g., tax planning). Show how your services align with the client’s bigger picture goals and objectives. For example, "Our approach in strategic tax planning supports your goal of increasing the company’s market valuation in preparation for a future sale."

4. Normalize the Engagement Process. You’ve heard the old adage – “If it seems to be too good to be true, it probably is.” Don’t shy away from addressing common issues that clients may find frustrating, when they might experience lulls, or the types of events that lead to kinks that need to be worked out in real time. Being candid about potential challenges shows you’re a trustworthy partner, eliminates the fear of the unknown, and demonstrates your experience in anticipating and solving issues. Tips:

- Set Clear Expectations: Outline potential challenges and what the client can expect. For example, "During our onboarding phase, we sometimes see discrepancies in financial records that can cause a delay while we gather additional documentation. We will keep you informed throughout the process."

- Flexible Adjustments: Explain how your firm is prepared to make adjustments based on real-time feedback. For example, "If we find that a particular strategy isn’t delivering the expected results, we’ll adjust our approach to stay aligned with your goals."

- Prepare for Common Pitfalls: Discuss common issues and how you handle them. For example, "It’s common for there to be some miscommunication during the handover process between teams. To prevent this, we create a detailed checklist and will facilitate a meeting with both teams present."

Conclusion

Winning the deal is about more than just the numbers. It's about crafting a compelling narrative that makes the decision an obvious and easy one for your clients. By providing understandable pricing models, offering tailored options, equipping clients with the right talking points to champion your services internally, and being upfront about potential challenges, you position your firm as the clear choice. These strategies not only help clients feel confident in their decision but also highlight your firm’s dedication to transparency, value, and partnership.

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