Virtual Pitching

Our customer relationships live from personal relationships. Is it even possible to propose a project when you don't see each other? How does it work technically and what does not work? We have made our first experiences

The show must go on!

It was worse than I thought...

At first, I didn't see it coming. When the pitch task arrived at our colleagues in New Business, we took our time - as always - to think about which colleagues we would take up the challenge with. The following three days "locked up in a room" were also totally unspectacular; we achieved decent results during normal working hours. Thanks to flipcharts, post-it-glued walls and a "Hey, have a second?" we were always up to speed together and could work productively.

So nothing special happened - until Friday when the management informed us that we all have to work from home.That was already obvious, but still came unplanned. After all, Friday afternoon was left to take home all the equipment that we will probably need.

From one day to the next we were in a very chaotic mode: collaborative creative processes between analysts, concept developers and designers about hangout, highly concentrated discussions (or rather tried to) with a child on the lap or parallel calls in the background. This was unfamiliar for the first few days and (therefore?) somehow funny, because you saw and experienced each other in completely new, private contexts. But as the pitch date came closer and closer, this became tougher and more tough and exhausting. Especially because probably everyone underestimated the double effort of "working at home". Suddenly you are no longer isolated in the office and go out for a quick lunch, but have parallel obligations to your family. And we didn't even know if the pitch would take place at all. Unfortunately, the contact person at the customer's office was not able to give us any information about this so easily. Unfortunately, their managers took their time with a decision... 

Max mit Wortmarke im Hintergrund

So we kept working towards our deadline. Which turned out to be the right decision: 3 days before the presentation date we received confirmation of a remote pitch - including 9 participants on the client side. So if normally "only" the editing and design perfectionists put the finishing touches on the presentation slides, we had to optimize the complete presentation again with regard to desktop share readability, read presentation/lecture presentation hybrid, presenter transfer points and bandwidth saving potential. And at the same time we had to think about the remote procedure: How does such a presentation run as professional and accessible as possible? For this purpose, we printed out additional CVs of the presenters and sent them to the audience in advance by post. We printed banners with our own Merkle wordmarks, which served as a background (and, depending on the colleague and living situation, either hid the gin bar, the children's toys or the kitchen panels). We ordered Jabra home and also tested our videoconference tool with some of the customer's audience in advance. Often it fails because of little things like "the conference is full and won't accept any more participants" or "we can't get in because our firewall blocks your tool".

Max im Home Office vor drei Bildschirmen in der Küche

And so finally the pitch morning came on Tuesday. We were well prepared - and during the presentation none of the preparations turned out to be "over the top", but just right. Only the setting was completely new: instead of travelling to the customer together, the registration at the entrance, the formality "shake hands and introduce", instead of suited-up, I was sitting in my kitchen at 9:30 am with jogging pants and shirt, with banner in the back and with an iPad as "second monitor" for my slide notes. When it was my turn to present my topics, that was quite unusual too: I am used to looking at faces that range from friendly to considerate to critical while pitching. This time I presented "into the blank". We have asked everyone to switch off the camera when not speaking - to guarantee the connection quality. At times, while speaking, I thought "how do I know if anyone is even listening to me? Or that the connection is not gone after all? How would my colleagues reach me in this case of emergency? I cannot open our hangout chat during the presentation?" But since the mobile phone on the table kept black, I calmly presented further into the black hole - until finally something happened, which in a normal pitching situation is actually very unlikely to happen because of time management and also a little bit because of the risk of being caught with a gap in knowledge: a question. And another follow-up question. Suddenly there was something like a conference and dialogue instead of just a monologue.

And at the end of two hours there was a familiar feeling again: the post-pitch emptiness. For two weeks, so much heart and soul and time was invested in this single presentation - and so suddenly it's over again and you have time for the things that were left behind... if it wasn't for the hangout "ping" the next day. And everything starts all over again.