Pitching, creating and delivering compelling sales propositions, is something that private sector business leaders know all about.
Pitches win business. And being good at pitching can mean the difference between staying profitable or heading into the red in what is an increasingly competitive world.
But the skill of pitching does something else which is equally important for both the public and private sectors: it forces us to think of what we do in terms of the benefits we offer to our customers or potential customers.
A strong pitch moves us from “what we do” to “what we can do for you”.
So why might this be a useful skill for the public sector?
Here are three reasons.
First, local government is facing a tough future and income generation will almost certainly have to be part of the survival equation. That means selling services, differentiating what you do from your competitors (yes, you will be competing against other councils as well as the private sector), and winning business.
The better your staff can pitch, the more business they’ll win.
Second, thinking of your services in terms of the benefits you offer to your customers is good for ensuring that they stay at the front of your minds. So it’s not what you do but what you do that makes a difference to their lives that counts. Such differences are measured in terms of the value that matter to your customers. Knowing how they measure what you do is vital.
Let’s be honest here: local government offers more benefits to the community than any private sector business in the UK – but that message doesn’t always come across. Too much of the public narrative is focused on what councils can’t do – or can no longer afford to do – rather than all the things they do every day of the year.
Pitching can help remind staff and citizens alike that but for local government life would be very different indeed.
But finally, it’s always good for leaders to invite staff to come up with ideas about how to do things better. The trouble is that this can eat up aeons of time that senior leaders simply don’t have.
So why not ask your staff to give you their One Minute Pitches (literally 60 seconds) on how to make your council better.
It will not only get them thinking about how to make your services better, it could liberate value and inspire some thinking.
If you set aside one hour a week to hear these pitches, you could hear 60 ideas a week, 240 a month or nearly 3,000 a year.
Anyway, that’s my pitch…