How to Handle Losing a New Business Pitch

New Business Pitch

Losing is never fun. But if you work in PR, losing is inevitable. Most UK PR agencies win rates are below 50%. That means, losing happens to everyone. But that doesn’t ease the sting. After pouring hours of effort into a perfectly crafted presentation, finding out that your prospective client went with “the other guy,” can be demoralising.

However, now is not the time to sulk.  Now is the time to reflect and learn.

Here are four things to do if you’ve just lost your latest pitch.

Learn from the experience

Initially, it’s OK to spend a few minutes moping but don’t get stuck in this phase. Take a step back and evaluate your pitch honestly. What did you do well? What would you do differently?  Ask for feedback from everyone involved: their opinions will be valuable to learn from.

Seek feedback

Ask the business if they can provide any feedback on your pitch. A lot of feedback is subjective, so try not to be disheartened. The feedback may seem unfair but, remember, a pitch is only a first impression and sometimes, first impressions can be wrong.

While it may not always be possible, try to learn as much as you can about why the winner was picked. Try asking a question like, “What was it about their presentation that convinced you they were the best choice?” A question like this almost always produces a quality response that can help you determine the real reason behind their decision. If they do provide feedback, remember to thank them. They don’t owe you an explanation so if they took the time to give you some quality feedback, make sure you show your appreciation.

Keep your team motivated

When you work hard on something and don’t get the result you want, it can be demotivating. Make sure you keep the energy high and your team motivated. Congratulate them on the things they did well and encourage them to treat the pitch as a learning experience. This is especially important if your team is new to pitching: it’s important that they understand there are lessons to learn from both wins and losses.

Keep in touch

People change their minds, so don’t think of a lost pitch as a closed door. Just because it’s over now, doesn’t mean it’s over forever. Add the people you met in the pitch to LinkedIn and save their email addresses. If it’s still a piece of business you would want in the future, make a note in your diary to get in touch in six months’ time and see how things are going. You never know, they may have made a bad decision and your well-timed email could be the perfect second chance.

Most of all, it’s important to hold your head up high and take your learnings and experience to make your next pitch all the better.


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