How To Tell Finalists That They Lost The Pitch

Hello and welcome back to another agency search quick tip from AAR Partners. AAR Partners is an agency search consultancy managing agency reviews for marketers since 1980.

This week we had an inquiry from a marketer asking a tough question:

“How do I deliver the news to the agency finalists who didn’t win the pitch?”

This is one heck of an important question. First of all, agencies have typically spent months of working on your pitch process. They sacrificed nights, weekends, family time, and spent multiples of thousands on hard and soft costs in an effort to walk away with the prize. With that said, they’ve earned the right to know exactly why they lost the pitch.

Client’s often feel uncomfortable with this conversation and comment that they would rather not debate over their decision. In almost two decades of managing agency reviews, there’s never been a debate over a client’s final decision with the losing agencies. Disappointment? Yes. Momentary deflated morale? Sure. An uncomfortable moment of silence? Certainly. But all reactions that are to be expected.

So how do you deliver the news?

  1. Release the decision
  2. Acknowledge their disappointment
  3. Offer one or two positive feedback points from the process
  4. Give the top three to five specific facts of why the agency didn’t win the account
  5. Allow them to ask any clarifying questions
  6. Thank them for participating and if you truly feel that you might keep them in mind for future opportunities then sincerely let them know that but don’t say it unless it’s true

Although the losing agencies will be disappointed, they greatly appreciate the courtesy, honesty and feedback in order to help them know where they fell short for learnings that can be applied for future pitches.

There you have it. If you have a burning question about your agency search, AskAAR by posting your question on Twitter or LinkedIn but be sure to hashtag it with #AskAAR. Every other week I’m right here answering your questions.

Good luck with your agency search and if you need any guidance, think of AAR Partners! We’ve been managing agency review since 1980 and if we can help you too, we’d be delighted.