The Pitch – Did Donald Draper really find it that easy?

Donald Draper - Mad Men

Did Donald Draper really find it that easy?

In the beginning it starts with a briefing meeting, the client outlines their requirements and you listen, gently probing for information, what kind of a business is it? What are their challenges and objectives ? What activity have they tried in the past? What are the dynamics of their industry and what kind of people are they? What are they looking for from you? You commit to coming back with a plan and you set a date for the follow up meeting..

Ok, you’ve put the toe in the water and now you’ve started on the roller coaster journey of “The Pitch”.

With one maybe two weeks of a gap to the presentation date you start that process of thinking, researching, discussing, brainstorming and even dreaming about this possible new client. It’s after slipping into your bloodstream and you are well and truly on the way.

Then the crew up the pace and start working on the plan with roles assigned to each of the team. We chat over coffee, we chat over lunch, the late phone calls, the good ideas. What do you think of this idea ..?

Now you start to become the actual business owner, you start investing emotionally in the challenge and finding the best solutions that will achieve “your” business objectives, your heart and mind are totally committed.

Two days to go, where is everyone? A quick review meeting to make sure the team is on track. The final proposal is starting to take shape.

One day to go and the visuals are other final material is produced, review, review and review again. There is no point being half committed, to have a chance you have to go the extra mile, which always means late nights and short weekends ..

Good suit today! Who is going to present which parts? Rehearse and rehearse and the final pitch is finally ready to present, Oh.. Last minute ideas .. what about it? Ok, go for it, make those last minute adjustments and then final print, burn CDs and off we go.

The nervous excitement and adrenaline take the team through the presentation to the prospective client. The team plays their part, fielding the questions, adding our nuggets of wisdom and experience, taking extra notes and then it is over.

Thanks a million, that was great, we will review your plan and come back to you” and then the inevitable post mortem starts.

What did they think of us? Did I say the right thing? What did he mean by that comment? When do you think they will give us feedback? .. The million questions roll around in your head, could we have done better and most importantly, will they go with us?

Then comes the crash.. you have been so fired up and caught up in the roller coaster of the process that you now are totally exhausted when it is all over.

You’ve played your part, given it your best shot and now it is time to detach yourself emotionally from the process. When you commit 110% it can be tough .

Before I used be on “tender hooks” waiting for the result, which normally doesn’t really happen me any more. Now when the presentation is over, that is it for me. We’ll wait to hear and if enough time passes and we haven’t heard I will push for feedback (it’s amazing how often you never get feedback, which I am convinced is an Irish thing – one crew actually admitted to me that they were just looking for new ideas!!) and that is it.

When we win it is fabulous and when we lose then try not to take it too personally, it could be for one 1,000 different reasons.. At least always give yourself the best chance of winning and learn what you can, so you can be better the next time.

Today we made a great pitch (at least that’s what we thought!), which we put an incredible amount of time, effort and ourselves into. We went through the whole emotional rush and now we are in that “after” place – totally exhausted!

Will we win the account? Who knows.. but I reckon we have a good chance! The great news is that we have another pitch to start into tomorrow!

Donald Draper from Mad Men made it look too easy!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion Communications

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