Who Sped Up The Pitch Clock?

What is happening to pharma’s new business pitch process?

It seems that recently the process has become more and more compressed. Major partnership decisions are being made based on a one-hour presentation—which is based on the agencies often being given only two weeks to prepare a full pitch, including brand strategy and creative.

While I can appreciate the pressures pharma is facing, it seems that providing a potential long-term partner with sufficient time to think about their business, develop sound recommendations and then deliver those recommendations in a respectful period of time might produce a more successful outcome and lead to fewer “re-pitches” just a year later. I also believe it’s difficult to get a sense of true chemistry in just a one-hour period.

A better pitch process model starts off with a brief agency interview to get to know the agency team members and determine if, in fact, they are worthy of participating in the RFP process. This is followed by completion of a thoughtfully written RFP, with the client narrowing the selection down to the top three agencies (vs. a cattle call). Next comes the opportunity to speak in person with the brand team and ask questions that better inform the agency’s efforts as well as test chemistry, being provided three to four weeks to develop the pitch, and finally, having the client excited and eager to invest a reasonable amount of time for the presentation and the opportunity to interact with each agency. Evaluating the potential partner further by conducting a site visit and spending more time with the extended team seems as if it would help to truly solidify such an important partnership decision.

As an agency, I would be pleased to invest more time in pitches for clients who are willing to do the same to secure a meaningful long-term partnership that would ultimately produce truly great work and positive business results.

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