In my drive to work differently, I’m always looking for fresh takes on routes to success. In my recent reading, I’ve found three gems that have given me plenty to think about and act on in my everyday working life. Here’s the first.

The Win Without Pitching Manifesto – Blair Enns

I feel strongly that pitching isn’t always the best route to new business partnership. It can create a false and costly misrepresentation of the team that will ultimately do the work. In my experience, there are better, more enlightening and engaging ways to identify the best teams to work with your business, as we argued in our recent blog. It seems that many of you agree, judging from the thoughtful and passionate #PitchDifferently discussion that ensued on social media.

So it’s fair to say that, for me, The Win Without Pitching Manifesto was preaching to the converted! But I was particularly engaged by Enns’s rational analysis of the problem and practical approaches to tackle it.

The book starts by defining a pitch as an ‘attempt to sell or win approval for one’s ideas by giving them away for free, usually within a competitive, buyer-driven process.’ Enns goes argues that market forces are aligned against agencies, pressuring them to give work away for free to prove their worth to clients with creatives resigned to this and trade associations seemingly powerless to challenge the status quo.

It sounds like a fait accompli. But Enns has robust countermeasures to offer. The 12-step manifesto signposts a trail blazed by businesses which have dared resist pressure to pitch. They’ve found a more satisfying and lucrative way of doing business. Tips include encouraging agencies to specialise and be genuine experts in their field, breaking free from the adrenaline rush of the big pitch and replacing presentations with conversations and collaboration. Enns advocates diagnosis before prescribing a solution with a genuine understanding of what clients need.

A harder challenge for many is to be more selective, respectfully pursuing only perfect fit projects. And, as Enns says, “by saying no we give power and credibility to our yes.” He also counsels us not to solve problems before we are paid. That resonates strongly with me. I suspect we’ve all fallen into that trap and paid the price in time and creativity expended without reward, and in the worst case, ideas and solutions taken up without our agreement or participation. The message is clear: if we behave as though we don’t value our thinking, our clients and prospects won’t either.

Instead, Enns advises that we address issues of money early, avoiding wasting valuable resources and refusing to work at a loss. The final manifesto proclamation “We will hold our heads high” inspired me to continue seeking respect above money in our work – only when we’re respected as experts will we be paid the money we seek, enabling us to invest in continually being better.

I’m looking forward to discussing some of these approaches this week at our PM Society session on Maximising The Agency & Procurement Relationship – New Models for Pitching. Thank you Paul Morrissey, fellow PM Society member, for recommending this inspiring read.


Read Angie’s reviews of two other recommended titles for working differently:

It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work – Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

Communicate in a Crisis – Kate Hartley



About the author

Angie, Founder, has worked in healthcare communications for nearly 30 years, ultimately building one of the most successful UK healthcare consultancies. Throughout her career, she has constantly looked to do things differently and make a difference to the healthcare communications industry.

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