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Mr. Mark Schnurman

To Bring Junior Staff to a Pitch or Not: That Is the Question

I was speaking at a 4A's workshop on new business the other day and, after raising the question of whether to bring junior (day-to-day) staff to a pitch, I was surprised at the responses of the group. There are certainly points to be made for each case. On the pro-side of bringing day-to-day staff, it is what every client is asking for these days; clients are looking for an opportunity to interview the staff that they are going to be working most closely with. On the con-side of bring day-to-day staff, what if they do a bad job at the pitch?
 
What are some of your thoughts?
 
Mark Schnurman
Pitch Consultant and Founder
Filament, Inc.
http://www.filamentinc.com
 
Mark also has his own blog you can follow at www.pitchtherapy.blogspot.com.

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Comments

Jr Staff are vital

Any strategic marketing agency that preaches the importance of brand promises and mission statements to clients, but refuses to include junior staff in pitches, proposal submissions, etc. is simply not drinking their own kool-aid. as a junior staff member myself, i know the current status of every project in our shop and--more importantly--the steps needed to get projects where they are at. while sales can pitch lofty expectations, we junior salespeople, account coordinator, AE assistants are the ones who make are charged with meeting these expectations. i think any junior staffer included in a pitch can bring a breath of fresh air that is a realistic approach and response to questions.
Posted by Luke Gibbs (Friday, August 14, 2009 12:03 PM)

As usual--it depends

The pitch leader needs to make the decision based on all the prospect factors, sometimes youth is a plus but not at the expense of making a poor presentation. If a pitch team member can perform at the appropriate level they should go, if not, stay home. The rule is, "Do you improve our chances of winning?" Just don't put any load on it, just because they're not in this pitch doesn't mean they don't get another chance. And, there are senior folks we leave home, too.
Posted by Mr. John A Welsch (Sunday, August 16, 2009 1:38 PM)

It helps sell the commitment

When junior members are brought into a pitch, really brought into the process, their involvement can help demonstrate the enthusiasm and commitment an agency has to the potential client. As long as they know how their role contributes to the story as a whole, and can deliver their knowledge well, having them as part of the pitch team shows depth of knowledge, and the strength of the agency. The challenge is making sure they are not over-rehearsed, and don't come across as having been scripted. If their presentation is a little less than perfect, but it is clear they know the product, the market, and how they can help deliver the work that will help the brand succeed, their contribution can help solidify the win. But they have to be full members of the team, not just glorified flunkies. And senior members of the team need to mentor them to instill the confidence they need to participate.
Posted by Kathy Magnuson (Tuesday, August 18, 2009 10:33 PM)

Prep you junior people

Junior people won't be "as good" because they aren't as experienced...so coach them. And be sure to really treat them as a part of the team. I think jr people are so often marginalized. They are treated as unimportant internally, so they have a hard time feeling confident in a pitch.
Posted by Ms. Mary Lorson (Wednesday, August 19, 2009 9:26 AM)

Duty calls

The fact is that senior talent can block ideas - especially in a fast and furious pitch timeline that requires so many components to come together. There is a tendency to go with what you know - the formulaic, the cliched. I know, I've been there! Young talent can bring a completely new, fresh perspective into the frame precisely because of their lack of experience. Of course, the senior, more experienced folks have to carve out the time to encourage and nurture the more junior but the rewards - not always dollars and cents - are great. I've also been there and didn't regret the decision win or lose. Frankly, it's our duty.
Posted by Ross Thomson (Wednesday, August 19, 2009 9:40 AM)

Prospect profile drives the choice

There is no clear cut right answer from my experience.  It depends largely on the personality profile of the prospect. For example, Headline prospects, (bottom line types), only want key decision makers around and lots of junion people kick up worries about hours/billing/efficiency that Headlines worry about when dealing with agencies.  But Logo prospects, (warm, relationship oriented), prefer more casual settings for new business and would want to meet the others on the team.  
Posted by Stuart Sanders/Sanders Consulting (Wednesday, August 19, 2009 1:51 PM)

Not as window dressing

Not every junior person is cut out for a pitch.  However, if they have been involved in the development of the pitch, and play a pivotal role in the pitch itself, having junior staff in a pitch is impactful on every level.  Witnessing the involvement and interaction between junior and senior staff conveys to the client that they are in capable hands, and gives a real chemistry check before it is too late.  I can also think of few ways to better demonstrate the impact that everyone has on the growth of an agency than having people at every level involved in the pitch.  It helps develop and groom the agency's next generation of leaders, gives them the confidence necessary to step up, and the added opportunities help keep top talent in place.  Having been the 24 year-old AE answering a Fortune 500 executive's questions, and am a better listener, presenter and boss for it.
 
It's a win-win-win. And when it isn't, we as agency leaders are probably the ones at fault.
Posted by Aubrey Dirkes (Wednesday, August 26, 2009 11:24 AM)

There's no "i" in team -- bring all key members to build trust

The sad fact is that clients don't trust agencies.  That skepticism definitely extends to the new business pitch when the president dominates the presentation while the client wonders who will actually work on his business.  It is vital to bring and include the key members of the day-to-day account management team.  How deep you go should be influenced by the client team.  If they bring the Assistant Brand Manager, so should you. 
Posted by Don Morgan (Wednesday, September 02, 2009 12:00 PM)
 

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