This is the extremely simplified version of what you are saying when trying to gain business from a client who is already using a competitor for the same services you provide. Some people do not like the first part because it seems crass, combative and a great deal like negative campaigning. Too bad. It is the decision that you are asking the client to make, so you need to take responsibility for putting them in this tough spot.

I have found that most pitches/beauty contests/dog and pony shows/etc. go something like this:

  1. Thank you for giving us the opportunity
  2. Since 1938, we have been dedicated to…
  3. We have 4 locations and here are all the logos of our clients we stole off their web sites
  4. Let us read you out loud all our capabilities of all our departments/practice areas
  5. Biography parade
  6. Conclusion: you should hire us because we are great and will offer some “value add” something or other

Change some of the details, and that is exactly what your competitors can say. You must differentiate yourself to a point where they don’t want to just hire you. They want to fire their current provider (in a nice way, I am sure).

When trying to unseat or take a share away from the incumbent, you have a few choices:

  1. Say we are great and wait for the incumbent to fumble one day
  2. Do the same work and charge discount prices (at little profit) to buy their business
  3. Offer a new approach or new services that makes them think they are doing something NEW

Ideas? OK, here are a few:

  • Cross sell in advance. Don’t sell Mergers & Acquisition services without employment, real estate and IP protection bundled in. When these issues are ignored in favor of “doing the deal”, mergers always seem to disappoint.
  • Follow the client. Is the client going somewhere new? Expanding in China? New Jersey? Go there for the first time with them. By the way, you need to know this BEFORE their current firm does, so do your research and go ask them questions. Often.
  • Alternative Fee Arrangements. What would happen if you walked in and proposed a flat fee for all their services? You would need to investigate and control your costs, but so does every business. Can you offer transparency and predictability in addition to your services?

It may very noble to perform the charge down the “we are great and will charge less” hill like a scene out of Braveheart and take the enemy head on. It is just not very smart.

Figure out a new approach that makes it easier for them to have that difficult conversation with their present provider instead of you.