Episode 43 Transcript

How to Win Business Without Pitching w/ Blair Enns

    Banoo Behboodi: Welcome to the Professional Services Pursuit of Podcast, featuring expert advice and insights on the professional services industry. I'm Banoo, and today I'm joined by Peter Taylor. This is actually Peter's second time on the podcast; he was one of our very first guests on episode three. He's well known in the project management world as the author of the book, ‘The Lazy Project Manager,’ as well as being the VP of Global PMO and Methodology at Ceridian. Peter, welcome back to the show.

    Brent Trimble: Welcome to the Professional Services Pursuit, a podcast featuring expert advice and insights on the professional services industry. I'm Brent, and today I'm joined by a fascinating guest. Blair Enns is the founder of Win Without Pitching, a sales training organization for creative professionals and the author of two books: Win Without Pitching Manifesto and Pricing Creativity: A Guide to Profit Beyond the Billable Hour. Blair, welcome to the show. I'm excited to hear about the work you've done, your books, and the insights you can bring to our listeners, many of whom are in the professional creative services space.

    Blair Enns: Thanks, Brent. I'm excited to be here.

    Brent Trimble: That's awesome. So we've had the benefit of having some thought leaders, some thinkers like yourself, some authors on the platform. And what I'd like to do is give our listenership a bit of the providence, the start where you had the idea of launching your business and then consequently into the book authorship.

    Blair Enns: Yeah, sure. If you're in the creative services space, then the name is meaningful to you. Without Pitching. Mm-hmm. And maybe if you're not, it isn't. Probably is. I grew up professionally in the advertising and design spaces, and when I decided 20 or 23 years ago that I wanted to move to a remote mountain village in the middle of nowhere, I had to find a way to earn a living. I thought I'd become a consultant in the new business development space for ad agencies and design firms. So when I talk about creative firms, historically, that's what I've meant. But now, today there's just this blend between these types of creative firms and other professional services firms, software engineering, consulting, et cetera. It's just a mishmash. It's all professional services now. But my perspective or ideology on how new business should be done is right there in the name of the business: Without Pitching. Mm-hmm. I was frustrated with the pitch when I was doing new business for ad agencies and design firms, and I had stumbled upon some successes. So when I became a consultant, I started to codify what I knew into a program, and then I launched that into the world in 2001. So that was the genesis of Without Pitching. It was a solo consulting practice until about 2013, when interestingly enough, I discovered that I didn't know anything about value or pricing. I started to research the topic of value-based pricing, and I realized my business model was kind of stuck in this mushy middle between fully customized service business that would be ripe for value-based pricing, and then a productized and highly scaled business. And I thought, "Well, I've gotta choose one or the other." So I decided to launch a training company or pivot the business into a training company. Started hiring people and scaling up. We're still a small business, but today we're a training company. So I launched the business in 2001, and I almost immediately felt some pressure to write a book. And I think anybody who launches a knowledge-based business feels that pressure. I identify at my core as a writer, so I've always created content. I was doing content marketing via fax back at the end of the last century. Mm-hmm. So there was internal pressure to write a book, but I took my time and one year in December, I forget the year, probably around 2008, I wrote a blog post called "12 Proclamations For the New Year." Mm-hmm. And it was in a new tone of voice. I've been a big fan of manifestos and books of aphorisms, Confucius niche, et cetera, and I thought I would take a flyer and write this blog post in this, like really big, over the top voice. We shall, like proclamation number one, the first proclamation we will specialize, et cetera. And I was nervous. I was really nervous about that blog post. I hit send and I started to hear back from people that they'd printed it out and some people had, like, set it, but framed it and put it on their wall. And I thought, "Okay, I might be onto something." So when I came back to the idea of writing a book, I thought I would turn that blog post into a book, and it's since sold over 85,000 copies and is gaining momentum like 12, 13 years later. Every year it sells more than it did the previous year. So it's a bit of a sleeper or a creeper, as you might say. That's kind of the origin of the business. And the first book, the one with The Pitching Manifesto.

    Brent Trimble: That's fascinating. One useless anecdotal tidbit, but you may have been ahead of your time with the utilization of the fax machine for content marketing. In an era of VPNs, hacks, deep fakes, and spoofing, organizations have to be on their tiptoes.

    Blair Enns: Data protection is still one of the most secure means of communication. If you have a fax number, send it to me.

    Brent Trimble: And for younger generational listeners, maybe we can provide a diagram of a fax machine for this episode. The book, this notion of winning without pitching, many of our folks in our firm and our listenership have the benefit of very creative firms, probably firms that are extremely technical and transformative around implementations, digital transformation stuff, and maybe creative with a small c. Management consultancies usually have some form of big presentation to own the room or the virtual room and present their value proposition. That is a massive amount of work. On the very creative side of the spectrum, creative shops give away their most precious commodity and value in great ideas. The pitch is probably a bit less so, and it's more about methodology, price, and implementation with Vai shops. Everywhere there's this massive notion of having to harness the team, spinning up all kinds of materials, and putting on this type of theater that culminates in a pitch. Wearing the scars of many nights and weekends and visions of vacations being a distant memory, the book still has momentum. Give us and our listeners maybe some anecdotes of some firms that have communicated that to you, and how the book has begun to transform their business, where they are winning without pitching.

    Blair Enns: It really is a manifesto in the sense that I want the reader to read it, put it down, and be inspired to know deep in their core there is a better way to do this. To know there's not a whole lot of how-to in the book. A lot of people have been able to extrapolate some how-to out of it, but the books I write subsequently, Pricing Creativity, is the how-to book on the subject of pricing, and my next book is the how-to book on the subject of selling. But the manifesto is really designed to inspire you and to see if you, the reader, and I are ideologically aligned because even the promise in the name of the book and the name of the business is a bit of a polarizing promise.

    So there are a lot of creative firms out there, large ad agencies in particular, and media companies who think, "Well, this is a false promise.There's no way that you can win without pitching." So they don't believe the promise.And then some others might believe the promise, but they don't see pitching as a problem because they're on a winning streak, because they're young, because they haven't accumulated the scars that you and I have.I always joke that everybody loves pitching when they're young but just wait—it gets old quick. You know when you miss your daughter's birthday for the second time, or you have to cancel the Christmas vacation or whatever it is.

    I remember I worked for one of the largest ad agencies in the world and my boss—who was young and climbing through the company rapidly, and he went on to great success elsewhere—said to me once we were out having a drink. He said, "So my wife calls me at the office the other day and she says, 'Your son has a question for you.'" So his son—I think he was three or four—gets on the phone and said, "Daddy, where do you live? Mommy and I and his sister, we live at home.Where do you live?" It was late at night, he's at the office. So it doesn't take too many stories like that to have you think, "Okay, how much of this—falling in love with pitching—is really ingrained, practices on the buying side and the client side? Granted, there's a lot of that, so we have to deal with that. But how much of it is me just falling in love with this, me loving to pitch and me willing to make these sacrifices?" At the end of the day, I think whether you're a creative business or you're another type of professional services firm, the question should be this: do you really have to cross that line that separates proving your ability to solve the client's problem from actually solving the problem in the sale? Do you really have to solve the problem in a pitch, in a free and competitive engagement as proof of your ability to solve the problem? And I would suggest that if the answer to that is yes, there's something fundamental about the business that you have built that is flawed. Because it is not universally true across all businesses in the category. There are hundreds, probably thousands of firms now who either A, refuse to pitch, or B, are pretty good at derailing a pitch, or C, if you can't derail a pitch, this is my hierarchy of decision making: Win without pitching, number one; try to derail the pitch, if you can, number two; if you can't derail the pitch, try to gain the inside track. You should always assume an advantaged player, so see if you can get the advantage and if you can be the advantaged player, you play that game—and if you can't, then you walk away.So there are thousands of firms, hundreds for sure, probably thousands of firms who are doing this, who are proving that this is possible.It doesn't get harder the larger the agency gets, the less differentiated the business is, etc.

    Brent Trimble: That's a great summation of the challenges facing agencies and some of it really is the catalyst that drives the need for pitching. You already answered one question that I was going to pose, which is how much of it is really self-inflicted? It's an adrenaline-fueled business to some degree. There's tons of Herculean effort to get a great pitch over the line. Consequently, how much of it, or do you have seen any shifts in the buying behavior of clients' procurement? Certainly the CMO, probably maybe some indications of savviness or sophistication, based on the level of client to whom you're pitching. I've certainly seen some anecdotes of agencies in market who say, "We've had enough. We're going to use case studies and differentiation if you'd like to hire us. We feel confident with the right fit, but we're no longer doing this type of scramble." I've seen some even, uh, well, I was in the business more recently, some behavior coming from procurement around, "We do compensate for some ideas and that sort of thing, " but have you seen any movements of foot either on the self-inflicted side or previous maybe agency that's been addicted to pitching? Consequently, the clients, the buyer types, where they're saying, "You know, we're willing to maybe change this method a bit.

    Blair Enns: Yeah, I've seen lots of shift on that. Of course, there's a selection bias, right? These are the firms we're working with. Some of them get out of the free-pitching business altogether, some craft a policy that says they'll never pitch again, and some push that policy out into the world. One of those firms is in London and I've had Julie Cohen, the founder and CEO of that agency, on one of my podcasts. I have two podcasts, one on the obscure niche topic of marketing procurement. She's also come on that and talked about it, and I've been on a podcast she hosted for The Drum called CEO Matters where she's talking about it as well. It's not something I necessarily advocate, but she felt so strongly about the psychological damage of pitching, and she said one of their core values is psychological safety. How can they hold that as a core value and put people through late-night trauma? So she just one day decided they'd never pitch again and put that on their website. [00:17:00] You can find either of those podcasts by searching Julie Cohen in your podcast player. My podcast is called 20% The Marketing Procurement Podcast. So that's a great example of somebody going all the way: A, they're never doing it again, B, they're being very public about it, and C, you can listen to her talk about how it's transformed their culture. Then there are quieter ones where people just don't pitch. I don't think it's necessary to say you never pitch, but still, never pitch. We won't have time to get into this, but you can definitely navigate a pitch process where you can push back and ask for concessions - a way to determine if you have the advantage player position in the relationship. If you are the advantage player and can get some concessions granted, then you should see that as an invitation to proceed, but draw the line at giving away free thinking. There's different ways to combat that. If the client wants to get a sense of what your campaign and ideas would be, it's natural for them to ask. Buying creativity is like a drug deal: you say you've got some crazy stuff, and it's gonna mess them up. Is this what they're looking for? [00:18:00] You don't have to do a hard and fast no, we never participate in a pitch - you can navigate the complexities of a pitch and derail it or get the rules changed in your favor. So it's clear you're in the power position without having to do a hard and fast no, we'll never pitch. There's a lot of subtlety involved.

    Brent Trimble: I'm struck listening to you and this theme you've brought up a few times around the preferred or the biased or the advantaged partner. What was the term you used? The "advantaged player"? And you and I have crossed paths a few times with Mirror New Business, of course. We shared a LinkedIn live webinar, yourself, Tim Williams, and myself, with the Society of Digital Agency folks. So, some of these names will be familiar, but I remember my first ever structured new business training forum, and I think it was Marin back in 2007 or 2008, but Lori Coots, who was the Shia Day lead, talked about her experience pitching Apple and that when they got there, and essentially it was the theater and here's our ideas, she already knew they'd essentially won. It was that age-old "don't ask a question that you don't know the answer to" notion, and she said, "You know, we had mapped something like 150 points of infiltration within the client before we really set foot on the pitch floor.We weren't putting anything forward that was surprising or delightful. And of course, it was culture-shifting, but they'd already essentially won." Is that, when you say that "advantaged player, " that might be one aspect of it, that infiltration? You've broken through the barriers; you've asked the questions; you're not afraid to push back; you're talking to the right people.

    Blair Enns: Right. And a lot of these pitches say you're not allowed to talk to the decision makers. Access to senior decision makers when told access is not allowed is a considerable behavioral concession. I love that term: 150 points of infiltration. I've done a small study on this: any behavioral concession is a sign that your odds of winning a pitch go from approximately one to N, with N being the number of firms under consideration, to greater than one and two. Just any small behavioral concession where they say, "Okay, we'll do this for you," and they don't do it for the other participants, like sharing information that they haven't shared with others, your odds in that case go to almost nine out of 10. It's not a really thorough study, but it's definitely given some support to what I've seen for the last 20 years.We think new business is a numbers game.We think, okay, all these competitions that we enter, there's zero sum winner take all. There's no prize for second place.We think we enter enough competitions and we will win our fair share.So we enter a hundred competitions.Let's say there's three competitors, four players in every competition.Our odds of winning are 25%.We can play that game, but the alternative game to play is you enter 100 competitions and very early on you try to get the rules changed in your favor, even slightly.You try to get a behavioral concession granted to you.If you just play those games, you're more likely to win greater than 50% of them. Let's say you can't get a behavioral concession granted to you 50% of the time and 50% of the time you can. Round down a little bit and say, now you win 50%, so now you're winning the same percentage, but you're entering half the games, so you've cut your workload in half, you've cut your cost in half. In fact, you've cut your workload and cost even greater than by 50% because as part of the concessions, you're asking the client to basically waive the requirement to do work for free. So now your workload is 15-20% of what it was before, and you're still winning the same amount.So that's how I think about it: there's two different ways to play this game.There's the way everybody's playing it, which is the straight numbers game, and then there's the alternative way where you're trying to game the system, get the rules changed in your favor by extracting a behavioral concession.Start with a small one.Ask for a larger one.There's probably a little bit of causation here, but I can't prove it.It's largely correlative. If you ask for a behavioral concession and it's granted to you, you should view that as a sign that you are being treated differently because they see you as different.They see you as meaningfully different.If you ask for a behavioral concession and you're the fourth bid, you're one in a sea of many, you're not gonna get anything granted to you. It's a really good test of how you are viewed in the eyes of the client now.

    Brent Trimble: It's fascinating. Great great insight for our firms we interact with and some really great lessons, not just for the creative shops that are on this end of the spectrum. I mean, we see this in software dealing with procurement all the time, of course, wanting to have that interaction with the economic buyer. The person who is making the decision that's meaningful for their firm and career in a firm selection. In our case of platform, if you're software, if you're a hybrid, it could be a mixture of both, but just doing that alone would have a profound impact on an agency firm, a consultancy, an SI who's dipping their toe into this restructuring. So I want to pivot a little bit. We work with and partner with a firm that has run this longitudinal study for many years. They're called Service Performance Insight Practice and they have a great data set that spans hundreds, if not thousands, of service firms. So it's everything from the creative agencies we just discussed, all the way through really niche specialty shops, consulting, big management consulting, embedded services orgs, and they track different metrics that are indicative of health and maturity. If you're an ascendant consultancy, you have a great core bit of founding leadership. Maybe you're known for a specific client category, a specific discipline. If you're in the software space, it's about a specific type of platform or expertise, and you're selling and probably having success based on that expertise, knowledge, and differentiation. Many of those would be in terms of operations and structure and maturity very early. We call that heroic maturity phase, right? You're getting the client work out the door, you're digesting and intaking some pitches, some requests, some RFPs. You've got someone maybe who's navigating a bit of a new business process, but it's a bit painful to get everything done and you've gotta build a little bit of critical mass. And I've always had this contention that as you ascend, good operations and services really help build the conditions for success for new business. But put yourself in the shoes of that. Do you think this is analogous to the win without Pitching, or the pricing creativity at Guided Profit beyond the Billable Hour, the concepts in there? Where do you think it's most applicable to a firm that's beginning and in its ascendancy? Is it to get those great qualifications, behavioral changes, rigor around your business, because that's gonna fuel your growth? Or is it around pricing differentiation and building the framework around how you're gonna bring your service to market?

    Blair Enns: We could spend a lot of time on this because that model parallels a little bit. I would overlay my model of the inefficiency problem. I've invented a word by combining the words innovation and efficiency. So there's an inefficiency principle and a problem. The inefficiency principle states that innovation and efficiency are mutually opposable goals. You cannot increase one without decreasing the other. The inefficiency problem is to be ignorant of the principle and to think that you can innovate more efficiently. You can't, and so that is the beginning. In the beginning, a creative firm is chaotic, as most new businesses are. Like a startup is chaos. It's late at night. There are no systems. As the S P I model implies, it's the heroic contributions of the individual, of the rugged individuals. And then if the organization succeeds, the longer it's in business, as it continues to grow, it has to add the efficiencies that turn this chaos, the potential that's in the chaos into something that's valuable to both the market and to the organization. So clients are paying for it and it's profitable and the lifespan of an organization, it tends from chaos on one end to efficiency at the other end. Innovation is in chaos. Innovation is inherent in chaos, and as you apply more and more efficiencies, you give up some of that innovation in the first phase or so. The first few hires that you start to hire real adults, like your cfo, your first finance person is the first adult in the room. In a creative firm, right? You have all these creative brains who will not be constrained by systems, processes, software, et cetera. They're making it up as they go along. The success of the business is in the genius of their creativity. It's in what's in their heads. They get validation. They start to grow. They hire the first grownup. That person is a pained minority in this business. Like, what are you guys doing here? And it's, if it weren't for that person and the people that they hire, that chaos would not be translated into real life profit and market value. So as the organization grows, there's more and more efficiency seekers added, and as you keep scaling up, at some point creative firms get large enough. They probably never realize until they're hit in the head with this principle and problem, and they'll reject it at first. They'll think of lots of reasons why they can prove that this inefficiency problem isn't real. But if you think long enough on it, you'll see that it is. At some point, the majority class is the efficiency seeker. So think of in the advertising agency business, most of the world's ad agencies are owned by one of four, five, or six global holding companies. These are efficiency seeking entities and the chaos. And so efficiency is like, is stripping out waste effectively, right? But it's hard to be creative. It's hard to be innovative without waste. The great thing about the chaos, nobody was holding those founders responsible. Really. They had the freedom to iterate. They had the freedom to fail. They had the freedom to think about problems differently, et cetera, but this becomes a cultural issue over time, the culture of the organization shifts from chaotic but innovative to efficient. And then when it's time to innovate, not only has the organization lost the ability to innovate because all the real innovators have left, they will not be constrained by these systems. They find that the culture won't allow it because the culture says this is what we tolerate around here. And a culture of efficiency does not tolerate waste. Now I'm talking in terms of extremes, right? And I will get back to answering your question. And it's not like efficiency is bad and it's not like chaos is bad. Both of these things are good, and as you grow, I think it's like entropy or it's like the need to battle entropy. As an organization gets larger, more and more of the resources are consumed by this efficiency seeking, keeping everything orderly. But then you're left with this culture of like, how do we innovate? So that's the multi-trillion dollar question is why is it that large organizations find it hard to be innovative? And there are some examples that are able to buck that trend. And we could talk about that, but that's for another day. Back to your question, the win without pitching manifesto tends to appeal to that heroic stage. The chaotic, the early stage.

    Brent Trimble: Sure, because they're feeling a ton of pain.

    Blair Enns: For sure, they're feeling pain, and they're still at the point in the business where it's young enough, it's small enough, they can change things on a dime. They can make a decision and I've heard lots of stories. If people have read that book, put it down, got an email from somebody yesterday, completely changed the trajectory of their business, of what they decided they would and would not do to win new business. A whole new set of standards, beliefs, and out of that behaviors and how they behave. This empowerment to stand up for themselves really resonates with the smaller, owner-operated firms. Now, "Pricing Creativity: A Guide to Profit Beyond the Billable Hour" is a book on the subject of pricing. So the independent firms hire us for sales training to bring to bear the frameworks that are implied but not explicitly stated in the "Win without Pitching" manifesto. The large, up-to-hold, co-owned, but largest independent firms hire us to come in and do pricing training. Then I look at their new business efforts and I say, "We could fix that too.I'm a big believer that you reinvent the firm one new client at a time, and I think that's why working on new business is so important." You have this strategic vision of what you want the firm to be in 3, 4, 5 years, and then every new client should be a step towards. If it's not a step towards, then it's a step away from that strategic vision. So I say to these large firms, "We could fix that problem for you too." But really we can't because it's not that we can't, but it's almost an intractable problem. In a large ad agency, there is this pitch industrial complex. The entire new business function teams of people are built around the pitch. One of the largest ad agencies in the world suddenly decided that they're never going to pitch. There are dedicated new business people who have risen through the ranks and earned the right to have these jobs, who are not going to switch their approach. There are people dedicated to pitches, there are people dedicated to RFP responses and proposal writing, etc. That's really hard to change. So to answer your question, early-stage firms tend to be enamored with and moved by the principles in the "Win without Pitching" manifesto around who we are and how we are going to show up. And then larger, more mature firms are more interested in the specific application of pricing and exploring various pricing models.

    Brent Trimble: No, that's great and it's a great summary. We're going to recap both of the books at the bottom of the broadcast, and we'll also have them as links where our users can get them. You know, this has been a fascinating discussion. When we talk about value and pricing, we're seeing this from our partner firms; more focus on pricing components, not the billable hour model. Tim, famously, Tim Williams, one of your contemporaries, famously says it's an economic model we gave to the client. He says that many times that we have to sort of claw back. So we see that trend. I just came from here, we're recording here prior to Memorial Day weekend, 2023, and I just came from Marin and there were a lot of firms moving away from simply quoting man hour pricing, give the client the statement of work and we're off to the races and more around nascent value, meaning it's a fixed price. We've built in some appropriate margin with what we think value can be to some more sophisticated models, like we want a share of the bottom line and how this is moving the business, which is more sophisticated value pricing. But along with all that, here we are in this period of economic status, right? Everyone's kind of waiting, it seems like forever now for the recession that may or may not come. Be that as it may, there is bumpiness in the economy, a bit of softness. We don't have that torrid growth though. Conversely, I think that the agency space again, seems remarkably resilient. There are clients buying, there are pitches in wins being transacted. What advice, in parting, would you have for that mid-size firm? Maybe they're heroic and they're moving up the chain. Maybe they're ascendant; they grew at a great clip in the pandemic years, and suddenly they're sort of flatlining. Is this a time to double down on these principles; pricing, creativity, win without pitching? The natural, I think, human reaction of a services firm is to retrench to that shark mentality. Yeah, that's, we've gotta keep swimming to chase whatever revenue will make it up in volume. It might not be the best. Yeah, or it will fall to the ocean floor. What advice do you have for them as we sit here? Again, not terrible, the bottom hasn't fallen out. Not great.

    Blair Enns: There's caution in the market. Exactly. It's caution. Sales cycles are extended. Clients are, as a procurement person was telling me the other day, leaning on their supply chain, extending terms, etc. A sale that took X to complete is now looking at two X. Some people are just deciding not to move forward on things at all, but there's no panic, just a lot of caution. So I think we're seeing that everywhere. I have some advice, but it's not worth anything. I've been an advisor to agency owners for over 20 years now and I've seen that these principles we espouse, whether they're around selling or pricing, if you're early in applying these principles, as soon as there's an external condition—like a really large prospective client—"I should do the right thing here"—but this is a really big client, so I default to the old way. Or macroeconomic conditions—"I should do the right thing here"—but it's a tough economic time, so I retreat back to my old behavior. My point of view is there's absolutely no excuse for that. For you to behave that way means that you're misunderstanding the principles and misapplying the frameworks that go with them. It's not this idea of "win without pitching"—if you just take the name, it's not, "Sorry, we never pitch.See you in hell." It's not that binary. There's nothing about either of these approaches that I advocate towards selling or pricing that should leave you worse off. All of them should leave you in a better position, but you don't know that until you've applied it long enough and taken these principles and frameworks and made them your own. Then, when you get to that place, macroeconomic conditions won't really have an effect on how you sell or how you price. Now, pricing, of course, you might have an option in your proposal where you're extending more favorable terms, and that's another thing we could spend a whole episode talking about, but we won't go down that rabbit hole. So there's a little bit of flex on the pricing side, but the economy shouldn't change the way you show up in the sale. It might change some decisions about which client or project and at which price you will take in this moment versus other moments, but the idea that, "Okay, we're trying to get away with pitching everything for free," in an environment where you're not seen as meaningfully different, you're not the advantage player, and in this macroeconomic condition, I think it makes sense to do this. Yeah, maybe, but you have to be careful. It's a little lie you tell yourself.My last agency job, I worked for a president and creative director.He was one of the most creative people I have ever met, and to this day, the portfolio of that firm was amazing.Doing new business, back in the day when the portfolio was mounted on boards, I would walk in, and these things were silver bullets.If clients saw the quality of our work, it was like, "We had the inside track most often." He kept saying, "This is not me, the lonely biz dev person. This is the owner, president, and creative director. Let's take this one for the portfolio." When you're building a business, it might make sense to do that, but when you're 20 years in, you're one of the most creative firms on the continent. That's just a little lie you tell yourself because as a creative person, you really want to work on that account.So you ignore the commercial aspects of it, of whether or not it makes financial sense for you to do or not.It's the same when you're making an exception for the economy.Yeah, sometimes your back is up against the wall, and any dollar is a good dollar, you have no power, and you're going to pitch anyway. But you do that once, you do it twice, and I'm fond of saying, "Every once in a while, we put our values aside and we prostitute ourselves." I think it's no big deal. I do it. You probably do it on occasion. You do it every day. You just have to accept that you're a prostitute.

    Brent Trimble: Yeah, absolutely. And I think that's where the principles go by the wayside. I've been in shops where we've attempted more commercial rigor and real structure around the power of no to clients. And then when presented with a massive potential win, where in the last go-round with procurement, it said something to the effect of, "We'd like to cut the fee by a seven-figure sum." And the pushback isn't, "Well, okay, then what deliverables are we gonna cut?" It's like, "We can accommodate all of this with the same fee and we'll make it up in volume."

    Blair Enns: So what we don't understand is that's just a negotiating position that you're hearing. That's not the law of God handed down on stone tablets. We just say that's just a counteroffer. You're in a negotiation.

    Brent Trimble: This has been a fantastic episode and I had a hunch it would be. We've gone from fax machines as a great - and maybe great retro - form of communication to a word you've invented and introduced to the lexicon and wrapping with the world's oldest profession, which I think is the mark of a great conversation. I thank you profoundly for this, and I encourage our users to check out the books as well as the other podcast. We'll give you a moment to plug that here at the end. But for us and for our listeners, we are gonna wrap and we do have a copy of Blair Enns's book, "Win Without Pitching Manifesto" and "Pricing Creativity: A Guide to Profit Beyond the Billable Hour" that we'll give away to the first people to reach out to us at Podcast Cantata. We'll get sent a copy. It's a fantastic read. Great, you know, here in the East Coast it's the annual beginning of our 90 days of summer, um, and poolside beach, wherever the summer takes you. Great industry insights. I highly recommend that you send the email. We'll mail it to the first people that hit send. But Blair, give us and our listeners a sign off perhaps with your podcast they can check out as well around the thrilling topic and potentially cure for insomnia around procurement negotiations and navigating a REBA console cells right for the upload that always has to happen at the last mile, but really, uh, a niche, but phenomenally important topic. So yeah, that'd be great.

    Blair Enns: Thanks for having me, Brent. I've really enjoyed the conversation as I knew I would. So find out more at winwithoutpitching.com, my podcast. It's a mouthful, 20% The Marketing Procurement Podcast. You can find it at 20percent.com, the number 20 then the word percent.com of another podcast, 2Bob's Conversations on the Art of Creative Entrepreneurship. That's the number 2bobs.com. And if you wanna find me, I'm Blair Enns on LinkedIn and Twitter.

    Brent Trimble: Thanks again Blair.