I'll never forget the time we had the VP of Marketing for an upcoming retail brand and her team in our conference room for a “chemistry meeting”. By all measures, this account was a reach for us, but somehow I managed perception and expectations well enough that she seemed genuinely interested in who we were and what we could do for the XYZ company.
The meeting started off well enough. I told her we had some slides to share about us and the work we had done in her category, but first, we wanted to get to know each other. Yes, it's the oldest trick in the book, but one I've found to be sadly underutilized. What I really wanted to do was get her to reveal any pain points, urgent needs and why we intrigued her – information we would readily playback in our story.
The conversation was flowing and upbeat. She mentioned “lack of senior-level attention”, “lack of energy”, “reactive rather than proactive account people”, all the juicy morsels I eat up and spit back in eloquent solutions. I scanned the room to see my team truly engaged in the conversation until I arrived at our president. I saw her eyes glazing over and immediately interrupted with a question to her about past experience within the category, a subject I knew she could immediately own. Whew! Dodged a bullet.
The conversation continued, gaining momentum and camaraderie. I felt the connection. I gather my keywords. I visualized the team breaking the ribbon at the finish line. Then I felt the president's head come to rest on my shoulder – asleep like a baby. The conversation screeched to a halt. Dead, deadly, deafening silence. The VP stared and cocked her head. My account director lifted her out of her chair and walked her out of the room while I apologized profusely. Sadly it was not the first time our president had done that and needless to say it was the last time we saw the VP. Snatched from the jaws of victory, the agony of defeat.
What’s your worst pitch story? Do share.
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