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The Art of Client Service by Ian Schafer, Robert Solomon

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Chapter 6How to Contribute Before, During, and After Pitch Day

True story: years ago, before I became an “agency person,” I was a client, seeking an agency. I identified three, one of which was a firm called Stone & Adler.

Stone & Adler made a visit; they were enticingly good presenters, plus had some smart, engaging ideas to propose—things well beyond anything I ever anticipated—the best by far of the three competitors.

But they were sloppy. Their slides were marred with typos; their people were casual, offhand, and even dismissive. It was as if I was lucky they honored me with a presentation. I found the experience diminishing, just narrowly avoiding insult. They came across as less than professional.

The other agencies I met with also had good ideas, but lacked the attitude and the sloppiness. I went with one of the other shops.

You would think the best ideas inevitably win in new business. I wish this were true; the best ideas should win.

But they often don't.

Stone & Adler had great ideas. But so did everyone else. The fact is, great ideas are not enough; to win, you need great ideas and something else. What is that something? Is it a magical ingredient, which once injected into a presentation, guarantees success?

Actually, there are many “somethings,” that in many cases cumulatively amount to the difference between winning and losing. These “somethings” are not about ideas; they are about all the other elements that comprise a successful pitch. I refer to them as “casting ...

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