Win the Chemistry

Published: Monday 3rd March 2014

One of the best pitches I’ve ever worked on was the one we won at the chemistry meeting. Not formally you understand, but we just knew.

Although you may not be answering a specific brief, and it has a different name, a chemistry meeting is effectively a pitch and must be treated like one. That means playing your A Team, choreographing the meeting and using impactful, yet useful, collateral.

Chemistry starts at home too. As much as a client wants to know if they can get on with you, they also want to see if you can get on with each other. If the client feels you’ve only met each other for the first time that day, then you’ve no chance.

Chemistry meetings are a bit Ronseal – an opportunity for the client and agency to see if they can have a relationship in the long term. However, chemistries offer an opportunity to go further. Often, clients are reasonably open with the agenda for a chemistry meeting and the agency has an element of control. This is where we can add value in spades and really get out in front. Realistically, if you’re already at the races then it’s fairly likely that the client thinks that you have the capability to do the job, they just need to decide if you’re the people they want to do the job with.  

An agency’s story is one that has been created by the work you’ve already done. As many of us don’t have tangible products to sell per se, we have to sell our wares through the previous successes we’ve seen with other clients.  Interweaving your creds into your answers to any questions the client has set is far more powerful than a straight 20 slide deck on your offering. Clients love to talk about themselves, so beginning a meeting by talking at the client for 30 minutes is not going to win you their affections.

This is your chance to be thought-provoking, controversial even. Often with chemistries, it’s not about having the right answer, but having an answer that demonstrates that you have lived, breathed and slept their business since the process began and that means that they don’t necessarily have to agree with what you’re saying.

In our experience, a modular structure for the session can be a way to really foster chemistry. Rather than following a linear format, creating a discussion with different areas of focus that the client can pick and choose from can be a great way to understand what really presses their buttons. If something doesn’t seem to be landing, then just move on. Doing this also offers an opportunity to take the meeting away from powerpoint to using other materials or props as stimulus.

Winning at the chemistry stage can also afford you an opportunity to get close to the client. If you have already established a great relationship, then this can open doors in other ways – which was the case with the meeting I mentioned earlier.

At the following tissue session, we had started to explore other areas and ideas that we thought the client would also be interested in. Very gently the client guided us back to the answer we gave at the chemistry and told us to present that at the pitch. We listened and we won.

Join our Pitch Skills Day on 24th April to learn a whole host of ways that you can create pitch-winning chemistry.


Amy Robinson – March 2014