Pitches, tenders and proposals – Efficiency (systems) vs Effectiveness (selling)

At a PM Forum – PM Forum training workshop earlier in the month we welcomed an even number of law and accountancy firm delegates with a healthy number of consultancies also represented. Challenges were explored as we discussed topics including: pitch processes and plans, selling and writing techniques and presenting and learning philosophies. By coincidence, I had met recently with John Depit Forte who wrote the first book on pitches, proposals and beauty parades in professional services  in 1993. How things have changed since then! An underlying theme of the session was the need to achieve a balance between a) process, automation and systems to make pitch production fast and efficient and b) research, deep thinking about the needs of the client and differentiating your value proposition to ensure the pitch was effective. This post supplements the learning resources from the workshop. Pitches, tenders and proposals – Efficiency (systems) vs Effectiveness (selling).

Delegate challenges and questions

At the outset, delegates outlined some of their key aims on pitching:

  • Learn how to break the tendering process down
  • Know what to tackle first
  • Improve pitch processes
  • Gain a seat at pitch strategy sessions with fee-earners
  • Make bids stand out
  • Learn how to write in a compelling way Persuasive writing checklist (kimtasso.com)
  • Make introductions and presentations memorable
  • Discover which pitch technology people use in other firms
  • Manage fee-earner engagement and time
  • Increase pitch conversion rates

More involvement for MBD professionals needed

There was general agreement that MBD professionals need more involvement in: client research, scoping meetings, relationship development, sales strategy, value proposition development and fee-earner sales coaching. Many currently spent most of their time producing documents, content and presentation materials.

Efficiency and pitch systems

Some firms were blessed with having excellent credentials systems from which it was easy to extract the relevant material, case studies, sector stories and biographies to tailor. Although keeping the content up to date still presented issues for some. Maintaining consistency with multiple contributors could be challenging.

Others had good systems to project manage and track progress on live pitches. Some firms have marketing operations professionals to focus on ensuring that the data, processes and systems support efficient pitch production.

For some, the expectation was that they would produce a solid first draft for fee-earners to modify. But for MBD professionals to excel in this area, they need early involvement in strategic pitch discussions.

Throughout the session, we explored case studies on pitching processes for Baker McKenzie, Bishop Fleming, KPMG, Kreston Global, Savills, Walker Morris and Wrigleys.

We reviewed the list of pitch systems that were used by professional services marketers and delegates added the following suggestions: 

Other systems are listed in previous posts (see, for example: Pitch points from a pitching and tendering training workshop (kimtasso.com))

The following articles were considered insightful:

Selling skills and pitch effectiveness

Perfect processes, project management and full automation mean that a pitch document can be produced very quickly. However, the risk is that insufficient time is spent on: developing the client relationship, scoping meetings with clients, research to ensure that client needs are centre stage and that the firm is positioned with a strong proposition against competitors that both differentiates and adds value to the client.

In essence, the pitching process should ensure that the firm meets all the client’s requirements, ticks all the boxes on the expected points of similarity and sets out its case for its valuable points of difference. Influence and persuasion require that rational, credibility and emotional factors are addressed. Influence and persuasion skills with Aristotle and Knights and Dinosaurs (kimtasso.com)

These things rely on early involvement of fee-earners and MBD professionals and excellent selling skills and strategy. It became apparent that sometimes sales strategy is overlooked when MBD professionals are expected to produce a first draft for fee-earners to tailor. Of course, some firms use the time saved with efficient production processes to invest in more client and sales-oriented activities.

We explored various approaches here including:

  • learn more about sales and selling skills
  • use research techniques and sources
  • adhere to the go/no go process to ensure resources were focused on the best opportunities
  • provide checklists, guidance, training and sales coaching for fee-earners
  • manage situations where clients place a high weighting on price
  • ensure presentations are oriented towards interaction and dialogue
  • leverage senior support to guide headstrong partners

See also 9 Reasons Clients Remember Pitches and Meetings – The BTI Consulting Group February 2024

Key takeaways from delegates


  • Work on a go/no go strategy before starting pitch process
  • Gain early fee-earner engagement in the pitch process
  • Review bid processes (as a team) in terms of client focus (values, aims, needs, language etc)
  • Expand the BD role for pitches
  • Be more involved in debriefs


  • Review our approach to value proposition development
  • Review wording of our existing text to make sure it is more about the client and less about us
  • Use ChatGPT paid subscription so data sharing is turned off
  • Use the clients’ language in pitches (a new idea to try) 


  • Read resources on business relationships and selling skills

Delegate poll results

Delegates find it useful to compare and benchmark their responses with their peers.

How much of your time is spent on pitches and tenders?

  • 44%      Less than 25%
  • 33%      25-50%
  • 0%       50-75%
  • 22%      Over 75%

How much experience do you have on pitching/bidding/tendering?

1 11%
3 11%
4 33%
6 11%
7 11%
8 22%


Is your role primarily: 

  • 0%       Part of the sales team (client facing)
  • 22%      Strategic support
  • 33%      Content development
  • 44%      Process support
  • 0%       Information/administrative support
  • 0%       Something else

Which pitch/tender metrics do you use? 

  • 67%      Volume of pitches received/submitted/won
  • 56%      Value of pitches received/submitted/won
  • 44%      Conversion rate
  • 44%      Existing client vs new/target client
  • 44%      Analysis by department/service/sector/territory
  • 44%      Profitability of pitches won
  • 11%      Client rankings of pitch submission
  • 11%      Fee-earner and M&BD time on pitches

Do you have a policy/system for agreeing which pitches to accept? 

  • 50%      Yes
  • 13%      No
  • 38%      Sort of – but it’s rarely observed in practice

How much research do YOU do to support a pitch?

  • 0%       None
  • 44%      An hour or so (mostly internal systems)
  • 44%      Between two to four hours (including external research)
  • 0%       Over five hours
  • 11%      Other

How often do you conduct a structured competitor analysis when preparing a pitch? Pitching, differentiation and competitor analysis (kimtasso.com)

  • 10%      Always
  • 40%      Sometimes
  • 50%      Never

Which do you think is the MOST important factor when writing a pitch document?

  • 30%  Focus on the reader’s interest
  • 20%  Proposition and benefits
  • 20%  Accurate information
  • 20%  Plain English/avoid jargon
  • 10%   Differentiation
  • 0%     Correct spelling and grammar
  • 0%     Brevity and clarity
  • 0%     Brand and voice

How much time do you spend planning pitch presentations? Perfect pitches – Five key points (Video) Kim Tasso 

  • 25%      Up to an hour
  • 38%      One to three hours
  • 38%      We spend more time refining the presentation once its produced 

How often do you help with rehearsals? 

  • 0%       Always – every time
  • 33%      On the largest/most important pitches
  • 22%      Only when requested
  • 11%      Rarely
  • 33%      Never 

Do you make post-pitch debrief calls to clients?

  • 11%      Yes – Always
  • 11%      Yes – sometimes
  • 0%       Rarely
  • 78%      Someone else does it

Related Posts

Book review: Sales Mind – 48 tools to help you sell (kimtasso.com) January 2024

Pitching, differentiation and competitor analysis (kimtasso.com) June 2023

Pitch points from a pitching and tendering training workshop (kimtasso.com) April 2023

PM Conference Report 2022: Strategy implementation (kimtasso.com) November 2022

Pitching insights – Qualification, Branding and Following up (kimtasso.com) October 2022

Five Spice Girl lessons from a pitching workshop (May 2022) (kimtasso.com) May 2022

Pitching and tendering – Focus, differentiation and less is more (April 2022) (kimtasso.com) April 2022

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Insights on pitching – Online, virtual, productivity, confidence (kimtasso.com) December 2021

pitch insights – M&BD adding value, pitch processes, knowledge base (kimtasso.com) October 2021

Practical sales tips: Reach out and Follow up (kimtasso.com) October 2021

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The growth of MarTech in professional services – an overview (kimtasso.com) March 2020

Pitching and Tenders – Nine top tips and client feedback (June 2019) (kimtasso.com) July 2019

Winning pitch presentations – tips for competitive tendering (kimtasso.com) May 2017

strategic tendering (kimtasso.com) May 2017

Selling – research in the pitch process (kimtasso.com) October 2016

perfect pitches and tenders in professional services (kimtasso.com) October 2015