How to Prepare for a Pitch: Three Tips to a Productive Meeting

How to Prepare for a Pitch: Three Tips to a Productive Meeting

You’ve worked hard to get the meeting and you’ve lined up the right attorneys to accompany you to this all-important event. You want to prove you’ve got the right combination of experience and personality to click with the decision-makers.

How will you get that done, especially with limited time?  What type of preparation will get you closer to actually winning the work?

Before sharing my top three tips, I’ll share some general observations about pitch materials from prepping many lawyers throughout the years.

First, unless the purpose of the meeting is to address a particular matter or the client has asked for something specific, the written materials ARE NOT the most important element of your prep. In fact, they get in the way most of the time. (I’ll explain below). It’s natural to apply the legal brain and think the “written submission” is necessary preparation. It goes something like: “my chances of getting this work will be so much better if I just have the right glossy materials.” But this isn’t a brief, and you’re not about to argue a motion. This is about developing a relationship and a vibe that will hopefully run deep enough to earn you some work.

In many situations you’re wasting your time trying to get the materials “just right”. Don’t get me wrong, materials should be good if you’re using them. However, you shouldn’t spend all your time prepping them if it is at the expense of doing the meaningful prep, which includes nailing down your prospect’s goals and objectives for the meeting.

Here are my top three strategies for nailing your next meeting:

  • Set an agenda with the client. I can’t stress enough the importance of working collaboratively with your lead contact to create the exact items to be discussed. You may be thinking that you don’t want to “bother” them with the back and forth. However, creating an agenda shows the prospect that you take them and their time seriously. It is essential that you know who and how many people are attending, what they expect, and optimal outcomes. Circulate the final agenda with your contact and your internal team, and ensure that the last agenda item is a block of time set aside to define next steps (see #3). As an aside, smaller pitch teams are generally better…stay tuned for a future post on this.
  • Have three to five major points to make, but don’t make them at the expense of the client. Your ultimate tactical goal is to get the client talking. In an ideal world, the prospect talks 70-80% of the time. You’re there to learn more about what matters to them, their process for hiring outside counsel, their challenges, their budget…and the list goes on. You won’t get them talking if you’re too focused on a script. Ask good, open-ended questions throughout your presentation and follow those discussion points wherever they may lead. It is more important that you come away with valuable information than it is to make it through all your slides. This brings me back to the materials. It is natural for your audience to flip through them while you’re trying to talk. Think about when you’ll distribute them and reasons the materials are necessary. I’d rather you bring a list of really good questions, a notebook and a pen than pages of marketing materials. And remember, you can always follow up with better materials after the meeting because you can tailor them to the specific points and questions raised.
  • Define the follow ups and next steps at the meeting. Do not leave the meeting without clearly identifying the next steps to be taken on both sides. Designate a scribe on your team, in advance, so that these items are captured accurately. Follow up with all of the information requested as quickly as possible. Be sure to meet internally immediately after the meeting to debrief, share insights and observations. These will be important as you move forward with a plan for developing the relationship.

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