Use Your Home-Team Edge To Outplay Outside Agencies.
by Sam Harrison
Every baseball player knows the advantages of home games. Familiarity with the field. Support of fans. Rest rather than travel. Local hours.
The next time you’re pitching against outside agencies for internal clients, remember your home-team advantages. They simply don’t know what you know.
1. You know the players.
Unlike agencies peering in from outside, you’re familiar with decision makers – you know their decision-making process, likes and dislikes, successes and failures. You know something about their personal lives – families, sports, hobbies. Let what you know shape your pitch.
2. You know the products.
Better than any outside group you know how products were developed and what makes them tick. For better or worse. Richer or poorer. You know the folks who move ideas forward, and folks who hold them back. You can’t point fingers, but you can point your presentation directly at problems and solutions.
3. You know the culture.
Outside agencies dabble in your culture, but you’re immersed in it. It’s like the difference between visiting Paris for two weeks and living there for two years. You know the customs and language. Buzz words and blacklisted words. Rallying cries and retreat calls. Dark alleys and friendly streets. Knobs to turn and buttons to push.
4. You know the room.
Agencies enter foreign territory to make pitches. You know the territory. You know the room where presentations happen. Its size and energy. Sound and lighting. Furniture and floors. You’re on familiar turf.
5. You know the time.
You know the organization’s ebb and flow. When spirits are high or low. When dollars are tight or flush. When decision makers are relaxed or stressed. You know the perfect time to make your pitch.
Build on what you know.
You know these five things better than any outsiders. Sure, the agency – maybe even a few decision makers – will claim your inside knowledge works against you. That you’re too familiar with the organization. That you can’t see forest for trees. That an outside perspective is needed.
And they’ll be right – if you stop with what you already know. Instead, prove them wrong. Build on your knowledge with these steps:
1. Get new glasses.
Find a new perspective. Turn things over and upside do. Study competitors and markets without preconceived notions. Step back and review your own processes, practices and pitches.
2. Get with outsiders.
Talk with customers about their businesses. Learn their hopes and fears. Grasp their views of your organization. Visit with suppliers. Ask what they see in your firm and industry.
3. Get with insiders.
Corner product managers, brand managers, sales people. Ask about their experiences, challenges and dreams. Move around the break room and cafeteria to chat with various departments. Wiggle your way into C-suites and ask about possibilities rather than problems.
4. Get out of the building.
Round up the team and walk out the door. Spend time at your place, a hotel meeting room, nearby park – anywhere but you daily workspace. It’s tough to find fresh perspectives when staring at the same four walls.
5. Get energized.
When preparing the pitch, pretend you’re an outsider. Act as if you’re seeing the firm, products and people for the first time. Imagine you’re coming in from the outside to woo and win this account. Get passionate. Get energized. Get the win for your ideas.
Sam Harrison is a speaker, workshop leader and writer on creativity-related topics. His latest book, IdeaSelling: Successfully pitch your creative ideas to bosses, clients and other decision makers, was recently released by HOW Books. He is also the author of IdeaSpotting: How to find your next great idea, and Zing!: Five steps and 101 tips for creativity on command.