OK, this one may be sour grapes. It’s definitely borne out of sheer frustration. But why, oh why do we still hear “we really like you, but we just want to go with a smaller agency” as a reason why we’ve lost the pitch? (Smaller, niche agencies presumably get the polar opposite from time to time: “we just want to go with a bigger agency”).
Now I know that sometimes HR and resourcing teams are just too nice; they don’t want to have to tell you that you were too expensive, the creative work was rubbish, the strategy had more holes than swiss cheese, or even that “we thought the MD was an idiot”. But let’s just put that thought to one side for the moment, can we?
Take today. My company has been doing some fantastic stuff in terms of new business (including a number of blue chip wins we’ll be announcing very shortly), but we’ve also pitched to a medium sized manufacturing business with a global export business, based in the West Midlands, a month or so ago. Let’s call them Company X.
We’ve been talking to Company X for months. We know them. They know us. From the first metaphorical shy, nervous smiles across the dancefloor, to the breathless, desperate throws of that first night together, to the pleasant routine of the comfortable, lived-in relationship. We know everything about each other.
So why did they wait, until we’d gone to the effort and expense of pitching for their business, before telling us (today) that actually, with hindsight, umm, you know, they really liked our pitch but well, the thing is, they realised they’d be better off with a smaller agency? But we’d really like to keep in touch, you know, just in case.
I completely understand that some organisations would feel more comfortable working with a smaller partner. But couldn’t they have told us before we were ready to commit? It’s not like we were pretending to be anything we’re not, was it?
So you have to wonder, maybe getting jilted by Company X had nothing to do with our size. As I say, we never tried to hide our size and were completely open at the credentials stage months ago. So maybe we really were too expensive, or they didn’t like the creative work, or the strategy, or even the MD?
In which case (and this is a plea to any HR or resourcing professionals who happen to stumble upon this blog), please give us honest feedback. You’re not going to appoint us? OK, we can take it. We’re big boys and girls. No-one expects to win every pitch (like I say, we’ve won a number of blue chip accounts already this year – our strike rate for January is 3 out 4). But every organisation (including my own) that pitches for your business will invest a huge amount (of time and money) into getting their pitch ready, and that represents a considerable commitment to you. The least you can do, is to give us honest and clear feedback – so we can properly understand where it went wrong and what we need to do next time, however hard that may seem (nothing wrong in aiming for 4 out 4, is there?). So if you thought we were too expensive, or you didn’t like the creative work or the strategy, or even if you thought the MD was an idiot, please tell us. We can take it.
On second thoughts, maybe size is everything?!