Andrew Englisch, CEO and co-founder of Igloo a funky and commercially savvy Melbourne digital agency contacted me to see if we could work together to help him and his team re-engage with the winning ways that had furnished their initial successes. A recent merger with a bigger and new parent company meant the pressure was on to drive up sales and win some significant new accounts. Igloo was chock full of talent and great ideas but was missing out on the podium finishes they deserved to get.
Andrew knew his digital vision, proposition and team was spot on but the clients and a very competitive market were not picking this up.
As my good fortune would have it I had targeted Australia for some winter business and was due to fly out to Sydney a few weeks after our first contact. Andrew booked me to work with him and his top two lieutenants, Tony Prysten and Adam Leys. I booked my biz class seat on to Sydney on the new Emirates A3800 and had three weeks of trouble with a rictus grin Gordon Brown would have envied. Oz in February and March, well someone has to do it. For once that someone was me.
My thinking at new and critical engagements like this is to really focus on building trust with the people I will be working with. I had pretty much sold my credentials to Andrew but Tony, his original business partner and design guru needed convincing as did Adam his SEO and monetization expert whose thoughts on consultants are not printable here. You nearly always have the answers to your unique pitch challenges so I focus on getting really close to your perspectives before sharing mine.
Tony managed to bag the use of Elwood sailing club in wondrous Melbourne bay giving us a basic but idyllic setting and four intensive days together to turbo boost Igloo's pitching game. We began by exploring Igloo's challenges, strengths and weaknesses and each Eskimo pitched them to me getting instant feedback on their individual communication style right from the off. We then spent two days exploring how persuasion takes place and refining and polishing our thinking with stand up pitching skills using flip video cameras for live feedback. We also worked hard on really tightening up Igloo's key messages and our customer thinking. We moved our emphasis from selling digital to buying digital. I built trust with them: they with me.
Each took a fresh look at what they could do individually and together and realized that was pretty much anything they wanted to win. Confidence just oozed out of them.
How I made a difference?
Commercially the results were outstanding. Andrew, Tony and Adam went on to win seven consecutive pitches. More importantly Igloo decided that there was only one to pitch and that was properly so each pitch is managed as professionally as their digital work. Smart qualification and only targeting of businesses they really wanted to win became the order of the day. Together we reconnected the new pitching culture to the energy that had started the biz and brought out the best of fast rising pitch stars like Adam Leys. They also took a new look at each other seeing new potential, liked what they saw and this showed in the prep work and on the pitch.
Igloo went on to win Mazda beating some of the leading digital players in Oz. More remarkably it was their first car account and they have almost trebled their numbers in a recession. We continue to work together and I spent a wonderful month with them and their new pitch stars and other Australian clients earlier this year. After all someone has to keep UK exports up.