Author: Mark Glanville
Understanding where a client comes from — and the local work culture with which they are familiar — can be a crucial element in delivering a successful pitch, particularly in the competitive business environment that exists across Asia, event strategists say.
“Overall, a consultative approach is more helpful than just being a salesperson,” said Nitin Sachdeva, executive director of event marketing agency Venture Marketing, which is based in India. For Sachdeva, studying a client’s market culture is critical to developing a successful working relationship.
“Having a great adviser in a market to navigate the nuances of that market is the most successful strategy to cut down your time to build a relationship,” he said.
For Daniel Chua, chief executive of Singapore-based event agency AONIA, a successful pitch comes down to asking the client the right questions to determine their needs and provide the right solution.
“It’s down to the basics of understanding the clients’ spoken and unspoken needs, which comes from experience, training, and strong interpersonal skills,” Chua said.
Flexibility is also crucial, especially in Asia, where, Sachdeva said, event cost is a big factor and where event agencies have learnt to do more with less, such as “repackaging” experiences to limit client costs.
Leveraging existing events, or building several experiences into one venue, can help to keep costs down and secure business. Illustrating his point, Sachdeva referred to a number of corporate clients from India who recently used Thailand’s Siam Niramit theatre and stage show as a venue for a full-day business event and incorporated the renowned show into the event programme.
“The focus should be on creatively defining a solution with an element of frugality on cost,” he said. “Flexibility also plays an important role in keeping the client engaged and interested, and demonstrates your willingness to make things happen.”
For Chua, creating “added value” is key to winning business. “It’s always competitive [in Asia]. Incorporating added value and providing options is essential to winning the deal,” he said. “In addition to the substance of an engaging pitch that wins business, improving the delivery style of that pitch is key, too.”
But deal-making requires practice and, according to Chua, “an ability to build instant rapport and implicit trust with the client.”
“Helping the client fill in any gaps they may have missed,” he added, “or providing an interesting new perspective, tends to work better in supporting any pitch.”
With the rise of personalisation at events, Victoria Wales, business director at New Zealand-based agency HOT Events, said she believes a collaborative approach is best. “This means that clients are involved earlier — and actively — in the creation of programmes, so they know that their requirements are taken care,” Wales said.
For Wales, millennials are at the forefront of the trend towards greater personalisation, a consideration that should be highlighted when pitching to a potential client. “Millennials want to control and not have the sort of programmes where activities are pushed down their throats,” she said.