Although she works mainly on the client side of pitches, Tina Fegent, a leading procurement expert, believes that the industry needs to look at alternative and different ways in which to pitch.
Ahead of her panel session at Pitch Perfect in September, Fegent talks to The Drum about the need for corporate governance with big agencies and how the industry should stick with RFI's and chemistry meetings but get rid of the heavyweight RFP's.
What was the hardest pitch you have ever done?
As I work mainly on the client side I haven’t really experienced a hard pitch. I have sat through many where things just haven’t gone well from agencies not managing the time, their IT not working, the team chemistry was awful, one person dominating the presentation, people not speaking at all, wrong client names used etc.
What did you learn from that?
If I am running a pitch process for a client I want to make sure the agency has everything they need in terms of background info, time, technology etc so I will always make sure that the agency is happy, fully engaged and motivated to do the best pitch for the client because they feel that they are worth winning.
Has the pitch process become far too complicated?
Yes, I think it has and procurement has a role in that. Often a standard tender (pitch) process is used whether the client is sourcing wind turbines for £10m or a design project for £50k. Good marketing procurement teams will adapt the process where they are allowed to but sometimes corporate governance and audit don’t allow them to do it.
Is it time to ditch ‘request for information’ documents (RFIs) or even the ‘chemistry meetings?
No. I like the role of a RFI (key company information on staff, clients and relevant experience) and the chemistry meeting (people buy people and this is a great way of doing a litmus test to that effect). The heavyweight RFP (a written reply that usually is covered off by a pitch presentation) can be modified or got rid of in a lot of client’s processes
Is taking part in a pitch always a logically financially viable process these days?
I think clients don’t appreciate the time and effort that undertaking a pitch process does and I commend those that are looking to simplify and also call out bad practice. Good procurement is looking at how they can do things differently especially when there is a trend towards more specialist smaller more agile agencies. You need a process that draws out the best for them
As an industry are we guilty of pitching ourselves to the ground?
A process from a corporate governance for bigger organisations is needed. Both to protect the organisation and the agency (to make sure that the requirement and budgets are real). I think we could definitely look at alternative and different ways. I think we can look at a pitch not always being the default position but we need to ensure that procurement is in the loop as the good ones can help effect change.
Fegent will attend Pitch Perfect on 13 September where delegates can spend valuable and focussed time with four clients and ask them anything. Delegates will be split into groups, who will secure 15 mins with each client.
This event focuses on helping agencies win new business. Check out the website for more information and to purchase tickets.
Partner of the event is BD100, with Digitas sponsoring.