The problem with pitches
Before we start, we are not talking about the big rectangular things made of grass, nor about the tone of a musical note, or even how steep a roof is.
We are talking about the business pitch and tendering process.
Why they are bad for you
Firstly, most of the pitching process is dependent on price. The lowest price pitched often wins the contract. So why is that a bad thing? It’s bad because it results in companies having to strip out valuable aspects of their service in order to give the lowest price possible, whilst still making a profit. Because nobody is going to want a job they make a loss on, right? So now you have to consider do you really want the stripped back budget version that’s lacking in quality? Or the version that may cost a little more but it is up to industry standards that will last the test of time?
Secondly, pitches tend to include a presentation based on a brief you have issued. The brief is normally a small portion of what you want as the finished project. So again, why is this a bad thing? Well, the presentation is only based on a portion of your requirements, so it isn’t a certainty that any of the pitching companies will understand all of the requirements of the full brief. The next issue is that the best presentations tend to be from the companies that have the most time on their hands to work on it. This begs the question: why do they have all this free time to work on a presentation instead of doing work for projects they have won? We’ll let you judge that one.
Thirdly, you can actually unknowingly participate in intellectual property theft. This can often occur when you like ideas from multiple companies pitches and then mash them together into a project you like. You then pick one of the pitching companies to implement this project. You may not be aware of it but this is effectively stealing ideas from these companies without compensation for their efforts. Something that is unethical and illegal. And nobody wants a problematic legal case to deal with.
So there are three compelling reasons as to why you may want to think twice about going through a tender & pitching process. Next, we will look at why they’re bad for any company that could be pitching.
Why they are bad for us
The most obvious issue here is that we (and other companies) have to put resources into putting together a pitch and presentation without being paid for it, and with no guarantee of making a sale. You may think that companies should be willing to make that investment in order to work with your company, but most people who think that would be outraged if asked to complete a portion of the work for somebody without being paid or even the possibility of being paid. The video below presents a fantastic way of showing this in the real world.
Another key issue is that companies (us included) can be incredibly proud of what they do. Working to a brief with fragmented requirements of the full project don’t give companies a chance to truly showcase what they can do. They need to understand the full requirements in order to produce their best work. Nobody likes to work without knowing what they are meant to be achieving. Knowing the end goal enables companies to put in the research and planning that will make the project a true success.
A final issue to ponder is the pitch/presentation itself, of which there are two possibilities.
- The pitch is given by the sales team – these are the people who won’t actually fulfil the work, they are there to clinch the sale. They provide assurances, are confident in the product/service and know how to convince you. The downside is that they rarely know the complete ins & outs of the product/service and won’t necessarily be able to answer any questions you have right there and then.
- The alternative is that the pitch is given by the technical team – these are the people that fulfil the work, but may not be confident in the sales chatter. They can answer any questions you have on the way things will work and can explain the process in great detail. The common issues are that they are not sales people who will undoubtedly NOT enjoy the pitching & presenting process. They know what they are good at and would rather stick to it.
Can pitching & tendering ever work?
It can in some rare occasions. In industries where things are more of the mind than of anything physical or digital. But in most cases, we would advise against it. Any company worth their stars would probably refuse to pitch for a job in fact. If a company can’t fully showcase their abilities and the tendering company don’t trust in their abilities, would you honestly do the same if the roles were reversed?
So how do I choose the best company to work with?
Now this is where it gets rather simple. Do your research. Look at their portfolio and see examples of their previous work. This is a great indicator of the standard of their service/product based on real-life completed projects. Look at reviews & testimonials from people who’ve worked with them. Companies of genuine quality will be happy for you to contact their existing customers who will give you a real insight into what they are like to work with as people, as well as a company. And finally, meet with some over a coffee. You’ll soon gain an idea of whether they are the type of people you would like to work with without going through a pitching process.
Trust your gut when you find the one you feel you can trust. Like your customers trust you.