13 tips for preparing a business development pitch

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When trying to innovate in new territory, the bidding process can feel tedious or overwhelming. But if your marketing strategy is all about “winning” the deal and nothing else, you may end up defeating your own purpose.

Instead, do your homework, listen carefully to what the potential customer really needs, and then focus on making them aware of the added value your company can offer in order to solve their problems. By bringing your best talent first to start the conversation early and communicate your true intentions, you will also gain their trust and strengthen the relationship.

Below, 13 members of the Forbes Business Development Council share their best practices on developing opportunities for additional pitches while keeping your ethical principles intact.

1. Research local regulations and practices

In a new market, understanding local regulations and business practices is crucial. Legal and normal practice in one country may not be the same in another or may not be acceptable under your company’s code of conduct. Thereafter, engage with the customer early on to understand their needs and research previous deal winners and pricing (usually public information) to determine how to compete. -Rosandra Silveira, Dell Technologies

2. Engage Early in the Pre-Tender Process

Engaging with potential partners as early as possible will set you apart in many ways. Once you enter the RFP stage, other business influencers are often involved, even if they don’t have a vested interest in the selection process. With a deep and broad engagement plan during pre-tender meetings, you can strategize that actively targets these functions, which you won’t be able to do once the tender process begins. – Mustansir Paliwala, EQUANS

3. Send the marketing team first

The marketing team needs to start building the brand and start getting those warm leads. I think the worst thing you can do is start with an introductory price because it sets a precedent. Show your value and make an in-person visit with the best prospects in the market to show them why they should choose you. The CEO, Chief Revenue Officer, VP, and Director should be present to show potential partners that you care enough to bring in the big guns. – Jessica Blais, VintageView Wine Storage Systems

4. Highlight your uniqueness

The key is to be very clear and specific in what your differentiation is. As a partner leader, I recommend that you grow through your existing partner network in the market. You will have a margin impact to enter, but you will have brand recognition that will be supported by your partner. – Olga Lykova, Workspot

5. Educate, don’t sell

Expanding your reach into new markets and geographies will threaten the status quo. Establish an ethical approach with your marketing and sales teams that focuses on your strengths, not the competition’s weaknesses. Your offer should educate rather than sell, solve problems, and include a thoughtful transition plan with potential gaps or risks they may not have thought of. – Serrah Linares, Change Healthcare


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6. Be transparent about your intentions

Brand awareness will be essential in any business as it expands into new territories. Marketing and PR will play an important role, along with the business development team, who will build relationships with potential partners on the ground. Ensuring that the various stakeholders are aware of the intentions of the business, and bringing them into the path of your plans would build trust. – Javed Laher, Mediaocean

7. Make the best offer

Know your worth, stay true to your company values, and create an offer that can’t be refused initially in the new location. Focus on the strengths, find an underserved segment, never belittle the competition, and always take the high road. If you’re selling on aligning value, service, and price with your customer’s needs, you can’t go wrong. The new market will thank you! – Anastasia Valentine, Wagepoint

8. Don’t speak badly of the competition

Create a set of “apologetics” for your business. The ability to defend or deliver the value your business has over competitors in the marketplace without saying a bad word about them is the holy grail of expansion. These are valuable elements of your marketing as you enter this new market, as they are actually the point of difference or a unique selling proposition that puts your business first. – Peter Schravemade, REACH ASEA

9. Reconsider your current strategy

If your go-to-market strategy is centered around a bidding process, you’ve already lost the war because you have no strategy. Pump the brakes and reconsider. -Joe Hipsky, IRALOGIX

10. Assess your team’s bandwidth

Money is cheap, but time is expensive. Successfully expanding your business into a new market will require an investment in infrastructure to show your customers that you are readily available to provide support and keep them running at peak efficiency. -Jason Holden, Akkerman

11. Focus on the seller’s needs

Many risk losing sight of their ethics to stay ahead of the bidding wars. You don’t need to use disreputable means for an advantage. The key is knowing what the seller wants. Are they in a hurry to sell? Do they want to make as much money as possible? Are they worried about what stuff will end up in their home? If you know what’s important to the seller, you can get the upper hand. – Bryce Welker, crush the GRE test

12. Share customer testimonials

Have your testimonials updated and ready to go. Don’t consider competing on price as a starting point. Once your return on investment is established, all you have to do is communicate it to the new market. – Jethro Hopkins, Fulcrum HR Consulting LLC

13. Develop a three-year master plan

We are lucky to be able to afford to play for the long term. When we enter a new market (in this case, I’m referring to geography as opposed to a new industry), we focus on brand awareness. We don’t expect instant results, rather we focus on where we will be in the next three years. This helps us maintain our integrity in line with our values. -Mark Dorsett, Prosci

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