May 04, 2008

How to Win a Pitch and Impress Your Client

I have been reading a book called "Chasing Daylight: How My Forthcoming Death Transformed My Life" by Eugene O'Kelly. The book has been very inspirational to me, not only because of the views on work, family, and life shared by Eugene, but also the way he handed crisis situation at work.

I have never worked in a company with a boss like him before. I think it would be great to learn from someone who values the client management and relationship building experience like he did. People just don't seem to understand that you need to INVEST to build a relationship and there is always RISK involved.

On p.21 "Back when I was the head of the firm's financial services division, its biggest arm, and we were competing to become the auditor for a major investment bank, I knew that if we were really serious about winning the account, I would need to get a face-to-face meeting with the president of the bank's Australian unit. The bank was expected to make its decision very soon. I did everything I could to schedule a meeting with him - made my calendar completely available, called his secretary repeatedly.

Sorry, I was told. His secretary said there wasn't single moment her boss was in the office that was unbooked. For weeks. If I waited until he had an opening, I knew, the business would be lost.

I called his secretary back. Given how often I'd called her, we'd developed a bit of a rapport. So I figured I'd try: Would she be so kind as to tell me her boss's upcoming travel plans? He was a man on the go, in transit much of the day - surely a pocket of that travel time was not taken up with meetings? She told me that in two days, he was flying from Sydney to Melbourne. Nothing was scheduled for the time he was in the air.

"Perfect," I said.

I asked her for his seat assignment. She told me. I called the airline and booked the shortest longest business trip of my life, reserving the first-class seat next to his. That night I packed, showered, and shaved, and the following day I flew the 22 hours from New York to Sydney, landed, boarded my 90-minute flight bound for Melbourne, sat down, and introduced myself to the banked I'd flown halfway around the world to meet, briefly. When I described what I'd done to get there, he was dumbstruck. I asked if I could explain why I believed we were the best firm to audit his bank's books. An hour and a half later, we touched down. I offered him our presentation, shook his hand, and headed to another fate for my 20-plus-hour trek home.

We won the account."

I'd love to meet a manager with such courage and vision to get the job done. If you are the one or if you know someone, let me know.

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