Winning the pitch with the 90% rule in a B2B market

Winning the pitch with the 90% rule in a B2B market

April 9, 2018

When it comes to pitching for new business, I’ve heard some fairly wild theories in my day. For example, if the client’s color is yellow, everyone should wear yellow to subconsciously appear as though the agency is “one” with the client. Or, everyone should sit in a very specific fashion so the first thing the client sees is the agency, thereby establishing a dominant position.

Bang. Head. Here.

While I’m a fan of bright colors and comfortable seating, gimmicks rarely close the sale. They may provoke interest or create a humorous anecdote, but they won’t secure a commission; they won’t assure the customer. People ultimately do business with one another for two reasons:

  1. The customer believes your company’s products and services can help solve their problem (the rational component)
  2. The customer trusts you to deliver exactly what you proposed to solve the problem (the emotional component)

It therefore stands to reason that B2B agencies should address these two items before, during and after their client presentations. One tool that I often employ with my team before the pitch is the “90% rule,” which is based on a very simple philosophy:

It is better to look as a team than it is to be right.

Here’s how it works:

Your client has asked a question openly to your group of, say, five people. The first person responds. If members within the team think the first person has answered the question 90% sufficiently, let it go. Move onto the next one. If not, one more person is allowed to chip in. Regardless of whether or not the second person’s response has filled the gap, however, no one else is permitted to respond.

The goal here is team. It’s not about being right. Employing this kind of rule will maintain consistency and cohesion within the group (as opposed to a bunch of individuals fighting for air time, seeming to disagree with one another in front of the customer). Consistency and cohesion, when repeated time and again, are building blocks for trust, which develops assurance, which closes the sale.

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