“Winning a pitch takes a lot of time and effort. Unfortunately, some suppliers seem to go out of their way to lose by lack of preparation and research.”

Winning new business takes a lot of time and effort. There are a number of ways to make sure that you lose it, including not doing enough research into the people and the business, ignoring the brief and budget constraints, and lack of preparation for the pitch meeting.

I’ve seen so many books over the years which offer foolproof ways to win pitches. But in our win/loss audit programme we have repeatedly come across examples of ways in which a supplier has shot themselves in the foot, managing successfully to do a host of things that are really the opposite of best practice.

So we thought it might be instructive to share our top ten (in no particular order) for your interest. When you consider how important every single piece of business is in this climate, it still amazes me how some suppliers seem to go out of their way to mess things up.

Here are ten of the best ways to go about it:

1. Avoid any meetings between the first briefing and the final pitch, working on the basis that everything will hinge on that final meeting.

2. Don’t bother to find out who’s involved in the final decisions.

3. Don’t research the backgrounds and experience of the client team individuals involved in the pitch.

4. Don’t challenge the brief (if you need clarification) until the day of the final pitch meeting.

5. Expose your own ‘better’ brief to the client with his/her teams and preferably boss on the day of the pitch.

6. Ignore the budget constraints and demonstrate this in your choice of solutions.

7. Steadfastly refuse to get up to speed on the client’s business.

8. Bring as many people to the final meeting as you can to outnumber the client—and make sure the team is constructed of people who don’t get on with each other.

9. Promise the prospect that they will have loads of the chief executive/chairman’s time spent on the business.

10. Forget about checking out beforehand the room you are going to be presenting in and, most of all, don’t bring back-ups in case the technology fails.

I’m sure you have more. Let’s hear them!