Business Development Series Posted by David McDermott

Remember, when it comes to making your pitch at a beauty parade your credentials are not open to question, you are deemed capable of delivering to specification. Many presenting teams however are still compelled to start their presentation with the “feature dump”, informing their audiences about how many people work there and the location of their offices etc.

This is entirely contrary to what audiences are looking for and is the No. 1 reason for losing a pitch i.e. talking too much about your own firm rather than what you will do for your client. In the words of the trustee of a large pension fund who regularly attends pitches, “We want presenting teams to show a deep understanding of our needs and challenges. We want to know how they will resolve these and we want them to demonstrate this quickly without having to listen to a history lesson about their firm”. He went on to joke that if someone shows him another map of the world, he will show them the door.

This is not to say that you can never tell the audience anything about your organisation. You should select only the features that demonstrate you have capability in resolving a client challenge or make a strong benefit statement.

Here are our top four tips to ensure that you address these audience requirements:

1. Start with an empathy statement

Start your presentation by talking about your audience (empathy statement). You can do this by showing them you understand their objectives, their business, their problems and challenges. You can now select one or two relevant features of your organisation that will demonstrate competence in addressing these issues.

2. Make it relevant throughout

It is important that you make your content relevant throughout the presentation. Therefore, the term, “You” should run through the whole presentation (“You” being your audience). This way you can state benefits very clearly and demonstrate how your proposition will meet the challenges stated in the empathy statement.

3. Be clear about your USP’s

Your USP’s are your unique selling points i.e. areas where you add value over and above your competitors. It is important that your audience know how you stack up against the competition (but avoid naming them). When these USP’s demonstrate how they solve an audience’s problem and a benefit is clearly demonstrated they will have much more impact.

4. Use rhetorical questions to engage

Rhetorical questions are very powerful as they make your audience think more about your proposition. They can also be used to emphasise your USP’s e.g. “Given the ratings of our analysts, who else could put over a more credible story to the investment community?”


In the event that you work in a sector where it is very difficult to stand out from the crowd it is possible to win the business by being much more audience savvy. In other words, be more relevant than your competitors.

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