The secret behind both successful million-pound pitches

This spring I had the good fortune to help two different charities to prepare for, and win, their multi-million pound pitches. Both teams did brilliantly, and in both cases a key tactic we used was what I call ‘future pacing’.

As I explain in the Corporate Mastery Programme when you future pace, you show the potential partner what success will look like – for example, the headline in the newspaper that trumpets what the partnership will have achieved nine months from now, or what their employees will have tweeted to each other once they’ve got involved.

Note, lots of fundraisers describe to the pitch panel what they think success would look like, as in ‘through this partnership you would be reducing suffering for 5000 patients with this disease’. Future pacing is different because it deliberately helps the listener get a glimpse, a sense of this improved future world rather than expecting the partner to work it out for themselves.

How to help them feel it

Interestingly, it always takes a bit of extra effort to move from the hypothetical ‘your company would achieve this benefit’ / ‘you would bring relief to these patients’, to actually showing them what will have happened as if it already has. It takes extra effort and courage to mock up that tweet or headline and put it on a slide.

To do the future pace tactic is worthwhile because once you have actually shown people the success they want, because their senses have interacted with it, they’re more likely to believe it’s possible.  So choosing your charity is less of a risk.

Logically they know that this future may not come to pass, even if they choose you, but there is a reason why people say that seeing is believing. Seeing is not believing, but it certainly helps people believe. And so does touching…

The toy bus that helped win a multi-million pound partnership

As corporate partnerships expert Jonathan Andrews recounts in his interview with me for the Fundraisers Edge CD series, when Alzheimer’s Society pitched dementia buses to Tesco (which did not yet exist) they brought with them a mocked-up version of what the bus could look like. This included the Tesco’s and Alzhiemer’s Society logos on a large toy bus that was placed on the table right in front of them. Note how much more powerful it must have been for them to pick up the model bus, than just hear about it.

There are a number of reasons Tesco went on to choose Alzheimer’s Society for a multi-million pound partnership that year, but helping them to believe in the new reality was a valuable part of it.

To include future pacing in your next pitch, take these three steps:

  1. Get clear. Decide what success looks like. There are two elements to this and both are important. a) Success in terms of the company achieving some benefit (eg Improved morale because of how much the employees will enjoy your event / increased sales etc b) Success in terms of making a difference to your charity’s mission.
  2. Imagine and play. Find a way for you to experience what these successes will look like, sound like, read like, feel like. Play with different media until you find ways that you could mock up this success in 2D, 3D, audio or film.
  3. Take action. Decide which of these ideas could work for your pitch audience. Try them out on someone similar. Find the time and discipline to turn the most powerful tactics into reality.

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