The art of building a winning proposition

What does it really take to win over a new client? Head of Marketing and Sales for Macquarie’s Banking and Financial Services Group, Craig Griffin, says he’s seen (and won) many different pitches over his career – and there are five really important things people do well.

Watch this video to hear more from Craig Griffin on what it takes to win your next deal.

1. Razor-sharp focus on customer need

“If you boil everything down in a successful pitch – and I don’t think this has changed in the last 20 years – the most important thing people get wrong is not focussing on the customer need,” says Griffin.

“The number one secret for a sales pitch is solving the customer problem, and the best pitches I’ve seen focus on how you, and your products and services, can do this.”

2. Make it memorable 

Don’t limit your pitch to features – make sure it’s full of the things customers can remember. “That’s the stories, the anecdotes, the metaphors, the facts,” emphasises Griffin. “Shift your focus from facts to story to metaphor, depending on the audience and context.”

He notes that often the client needs, even in a B2B transaction, are quite emotional. “Even very large decisions I have seen, were made sometimes on a very personal basis.”

Work out in advance what will drive the customer’s decision. What is keeping them awake at night? Remember more than one decision-maker might be involved.

3. Stand out 

“Standing out today is quite different in a world of digital disruption – you need to be very clear about what business you’re in and how you might make that difference in the eyes of your customers,” Griffin says.

Make sure your message is filled with things the customer can remember: the stories, the anecdotes, the metaphors, the facts.

For example, Uber focused on the customer problem rather than gimmicks to stand out. “If you look at their original pitch deck, it was all about your private driver and it targeted hire cars – but by solving that problem, their pitch translated incredibly well across transportation,” he adds.

“And if you look at the same proposition in accounting, what Xero, MYOB and others have done is to shift their pitch from the provider of information, the way that we manage accounting, to the value you can add on top.”

4. Balance the rational and emotional

In a business-to-business sale, people may think they need to pitch at a rational level, focusing on features and functionality. “But often, they miss the real economic value add of solving that problem for the customer,” suggests Griffin.

He says he experienced this directly when helping a Macquarie team sell a new software platform.

“Getting the numbers right is critical in a B2B pitch,” he explains. “We worked out the true financial impact of solving a very specific problem – where cost per transaction and efficiency was affecting profitability. Once we quantified that value, our customer shifted from getting stuck midway through our sales funnel, to accelerating and getting to buyer decisions much more quickly.”

5. Be prepared to handle objections 

No matter how hard it is to hear, you need objections to come through from your prospects.

“The worst situation is when someone leaves your business or you lose a pitch and you never figure out why,” says Griffin. He suggests three different strategies to deal with a ‘no’:

  • Anticipate and prevent it from being a big issue – talk about any friction points or potential roadblocks upfront
  • Minimise the concern – ‘I understand how you feel, many others have felt that way, here’s what they’ve found and here’s the solution…’
  • It’s a genuine problem, acknowledge it – clarify the issue, answer it and then confirm you’ve resolved it.

“Encourage objections, take them off the table if you can, but when you deal with them make sure the way you solve it is customer centred,” he says.

Interested in learning more?

Check out Griffin’s top picks for sales success

The Trusted Adviser, David Maister

Lovemarks: the Future Beyond Brands, Kevin Roberts

6 keys to building a memorable presentation, Colin James

Positioning 101, Matt Church

Traction, Kristen Hansen

Or read these articles on Macquarie’s expertise hub:

5 myths about closing the deal

4 new ways to build your pipeline

Using social media to drive revenue

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Additional information

Unless stated otherwise, this material has been prepared by Macquarie Bank Limited ABN 46 008 583 542 AFSL & Australian Credit Licence 237502 ("Macquarie") for general discussion purposes only, without taking into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on this general information, you must consider its appropriateness having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs. The information provided is not intended to replace or serve as a substitute for any accounting, tax or other professional advice, consultation or service.