Why Pitching a Client is Like a Job Interview and Why It Isn’t!

by Chris Farnell · 26 comments

Pitching a Client
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Howdy dahling BGB’er. Hope you had a fabulous New Year and 2012 has started with an appropriate bang. 

This is a guest post contributed by Chris Farnell on why pitching a client is similar to a J.O.B. interview… and then again… why it isn’t!

He makes several good points, with the very last point being my love-hate favorite. ;) How about you?

Got ideas on ways a pitching a client can be similar to interviewing for a job? Drop ‘em in the comments below and let’s dialogue.

Perhaps one of the big reliefs of moving into freelance work is the knowledge that you don’t have to apply for jobs any more. No more scouring the web for job descriptions that don’t actively exclude you.

No more repetitively writing out your date of birth, national insurance number and A-level results into each employer’s personally customised application form. And of course, no more trying to prove yourself in front of a row of be-suited people with clipboards like some sort of cut-price Dragon’s Den.

Except that’s not strictly true.

On going freelance you very quickly learn that job hunting is no longer the annoying interval that happens between jobs, but is actually a pretty large percentage of your working day- annoyingly, usually the bit that doesn’t pay.

Of course, this means that in a lot of ways your experience answering questions about whether you’re happier working on your own or as part of a team will still be useful to you (incidentally, the answer to that question is “Both”).

At the same time it’s important to remember that pitching for work still isn’t the same thing as interviewing for a job. So today we’re going to show where the line between the two is.

Why Pitching a Client is Like a Job Interview

The similarities between a pitch and a job interview ought to appear pretty obvious. Most of the tips that help you get through a job interview will also help you get through a pitch.

The usual interview questions will probably also rear their head during this discussion. As with a job interview it’s a good idea to smarten yourself up, offer a firm handshake and sit up straight in your chair.

More importantly it’s also a good idea to read up a great deal on your prospective client. As with a job interview this means checking out the company’s website and brochures, but also going wider than that.

See if they’ve been covered in any news stories or industry websites, have a look at any customers reviews that are available.

As well as the preparation necessary for the pitch, there will also be similarities in how you answer questions. With both interviews and pitches, it is important to keep your answers specific.

Don’t say “I’m good at working to tight deadlines”- instead tell the potential client about occasions when you have managed to meet a tight deadline, and how you were able to do so.

Why Pitching a Client Not Like a Job Interview

When you go into a job interview you are talking to somebody with a tick list, which can take the form of an actual tick list, or just a list of qualities they’ve got stored away in their brain.

Either way you are talking to somebody with a job description that requires a certain skill set and level of experience, which they will be looking to get for a price that has probably been decided in advance.

When you interview for a job, you’re task is to demonstrate to the interviewer how you are the candidate that best fits the criteria they already have in place.

As a freelancer, your job is to tell the client what their problem is, offer them a solution to the problem, and tell them what resources will be needed to put that solution into action.

This means that while the structure of an interview will be primarily decided by the employer, when you’re pitching to a client it will be you who is leading the discussion, laying out the information your potential clients need in an accessible way and making sure to leave room for them to ask questions.

As we’ve already said, it’s important to be able to provide specific examples of your work. But while in a job interview those examples will be more closely related to individual tasks (such as a time when you have demonstrated good time management) when you are pitching to a client, you need to be able to show examples of other clients you have worked with who have got their money’s worth.

Ultimately the biggest difference between an interview and a client pitch is that during an interview you are trying to sell yourself as a product. Your potential employer will be looking to hire someone who will be able to fill a role that, no matter how detailed the job description, will still be relatively nebulous.

When you pitch to a client, the way you present yourself is a factor, but at the end of the day you are not trying to sell yourself, you are trying to sell your specific solution to that company’s problem.

This means that, far more than during a job interview, the devil will be in the details. Go over your proposal repeatedly in advance, identifying any potential flaws and issues and having answers to them readily prepared.

Once it’s over you’ll learn the final crucial difference between a pitch and a job interview. With a pitch, whether you win or lose, you’ll soon have to do it all over again.

BGB’s comment- WEE! Fun times right?

Alright, hope you enjoyed the read dahling! If you did, can you do me a big favor? Share it with your buddies and networks please? :) It’s easy, look to the left or below for some handy sharing buttons. Thanks you rockstar you!

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