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  • Writer's pictureCliff Scott, Associate, The Americas

Six Tips for Winning New Business Pursuits During COVID-19

For many, new business pursuits during Covid-19 feel totally new. Pitches and oral presentations are occurring via Zoom or other video-conference platforms. There are collaboration challenges as the inability of pursuit teams to assemble together during the preparation process is compromised. Establishing chemistry is more difficult. And differentiating a proposed solution in a way that is compelling and convincing is hampered by the lack of in-person presentation opportunities.

Yet, with everything that is different in a business environment where many – if not all – are working from home, it is interesting how some of the fundamental principles still apply.

With that in mind, here are six tips toward adapting to the new normal:.

  1. Embrace the newness. Perhaps the best news about virtual presentations is they reset the bar and create a new playing field in which few have legacy advantages. If you’ve felt like competitors had a leg up in the past, this is your time to feel confident with the new dynamics and use them to leapfrog others who continue to struggle.

  2. Become the ‘favorite’ before the final pitch. In the absence of in-person presentations, what is done prior to presenting the final deliverable becomes even more important. Building relationships with key decision-makers, developing trust, exhibiting passion and enthusiasm, and demonstrating a spirit of collaboration with the prospect during the pursuit process becomes even more critical to winning. Essentially, pitches should be won in advance of the actual pitch.

  3. Rehearse using Zoom. Ever wish you could convince the pursuit team to rehearse more often? Or agree to have rehearsals video-recorded for evaluation and improvement? Now’s your chance. Mastering the videoconference platform can become a competitive advantage. And video recording can improve presentation effectiveness. Hand-offs to team members, body language, engagement and affirmation are all easily improved during rehearsals.

  4. Build a Virtual War Room. For years, we’ve recommended the establishment of a War Room, but with pursuit teams working from home, the reliance on a ‘virtual’ War Room becomes part of the new normal. 

  5. Nominate a ‘point guard’ for the Q&A. Answering questions can be clunky among pursuit teams using videoconference platforms. Awkward pauses, unclear protocols and team members stepping on each other’s answers are more prevalent. If the team agrees that one member will field every question and then pass it along to another teammate for the answer, many of these issues can be avoided.

  6. Improve your win ratio. Dealing with all the issues surrounding the coronavirus are stressful. The last thing a company needs is to engage in low-percentage pursuits. Selecting opportunities that play to your organization’s strength and focusing more resources on fewer pursuits will inculcate a shared confidence among the pursuit team that becomes palpable by the prospect.

Our bet is that Covid-19 isn’t going away any time soon. And waiting for the old normal to return is clearly not the best approach. Embrace the opportunities presented by the new pursuit dynamics – especially those which are grounded in fundamental principles that have always resulted in a greater win percentage – and use this time to emerge a stronger pursuit team.

​- Cliff Scott, Associate, The Americas


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