Be an outbox, not an inbox

This simple step change in how you deliver information might just help you to win your next pitch.

Quick question…

Hands up if a decent proportion of your pitching process is (in one way or another) an exhaustive list of all the things you’re planning to do for your potential client?

I’d be surprised if your answer wasn’t yes.

Regardless of what you’re selling, we all want to show our value, especially in the pitch process. It seems like the best way to do that is to physically show just how many things you will be actioning… writing… creating…delivering.

It’s natural to want the client to get a grasp on the countless ways you are going to be important to their business, if your list is longer than your competitors then you might just pip them to the post, right?

The problem? You’re an inbox.

Your ‘exhaustive’ list is essentially your prospective clients’ ‘exhausting’ list. If you’ve listed 100 ways you’re going to help them, you’re likely also adding 100 things to their to do list.

Ask yourself…

Would you like 100 extra things dumped in your inbox?

The sames goes for talking about process during your pitch, Lots of pitches focus on process, with the rationale it shows you are methodical and de risking projects. But as with you ‘all the things we’re going to do’ list, many clients see process as more effort integrating with THEIR current organisations processes. Again, you’re an inbox.

Now of course your prospective client knows there will be work for them to do to support your work but reframing your pitch will set you apart as a radiator, not a drain.

The simple switch – be an outbox.

If you want to win someone over, take away their stress, don’t add to it.

So, instead of listing all the things you’re going to do and all the process changes you’re going to make (in turn implying the effort that will be required of the client) tell them the big strategic problem(s) you’re going to solve and how you will do much of the heavy lifting. Talk about how you adapt your processes to fit to their way of working. See how that sounds so much more empathetic and in service of the client?

An example:

  • You know your prospective charity client wants to increase the number of legacy donations
  • You would usually list your individual ‘tactics’ e.g. monthly newsletter, press releases, targeted SEO…
  • Instead tell the client how you are going to address the overarching problem…
  • ‘We will fundamentally change the way people react to the suggestion of legacy donations’
  • Let them see the insight you have into the target audience
  • Instil faith and trust in your knowledge
  • Help them see how you will deliver their objectives at the highest level (be that donations, or indeed improving stakeholder relations, mitigating risk, creating a great ESG strategy).
  • Discuss how you will adapt your process so it is easy and seamless for them
  • Show them how you will be helping to do the heavy lifting too (be clear of your role to make theirs easier)
  • THEN, AND ONLY THEN tell them how you’re going to do it om a micro level.

First sell the sizzle, then sell the sausage.

If you can convince a prospective client you’ll be an outbox for solving their higher level objectives, they will happily accept the secondary (inbox) work you subsequently tell them about.

In Dan Sullivan’s 10XTalk Podcast, he divides everyone into one of two categories:

  • Those that have their own energy source (those with batteries)
  • Those that are dependent on others for their energy (those without batteries)

If you’re pitching to win, be the person who comes with batteries included. Be the outbox, not the inbox.


Every Wednesday I book out an hour to hold a FREE agency leaders surgery. If you have something on your mind, a challenge you’re wrestling with or just want an alternative point of view, I’d be very happy to lend an ear and maybe help you start to unpick the issues. You can help yourself to my calendar, here. Speaking to a diverse group of agency leaders helps me stay current and contextualise the issues I’m seeing with my clients. So please see this conversation as a genuine collaboration where we both hope to learn something new.


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If you have something on your mind, a challenge you’re wrestling with or just want an alternative point of view, I’d be very happy to lend an ear and maybe help you start to unpick the issues.