Are You A Contender Or A Fluffer? 13 Critical Questions To Determine If You’re Really In The Running For The Business

boxing gloves

I joined forces with a complementary branding firm last week to pitch a huge account; my partners were ecstatic about the chance to bid on this big, fat, and juicy piece of business.  The prospect was down to 4 companies and we were on the proverbial “short list” of vendors. But, were we really?

After firing off a series of questions to my partners, it became clear that not only were we not in the running, but we were being used as a “fluffer” – warming up the bidding process without a chance of getting the business!

13 Questions You must Answer Before Pitching the Biz

Before you spend your precious time preparing for a “dog and pony” show, make sure to ask questions…and get these answers.

  1. How did you determine the short list of vendors?
  2. Who else is bidding?
  3. What’s the goal of the presentation?
  4. What are the names and titles of everyone at the meeting?
  5. What are you expectations at the end of the meeting?
  6. How are you making the decision?
  7. What are the formal (and informal) steps in the process?
  8. If you had to make a decision today, what vendor would you choose?
  9. Why the need for this project now?
  10. How have you made decisions in the past?
  11. How will we measure success?
  12. What metrics are most important to you?
  13. If you could wave a magic wand, what is the #1 problem you want to solve today?

Remember: questions are the answers. If your prospect isn’t ready to have this discussion with you, then they are not truly entertaining the prospect of working with you. Share more in the comments below.

2 Comments
  1. Just wondering if you are aware that “fluffer” is commonly known as a person in the porn industry who keeps the male actors stimulated for the next scene?

    I can see how it fits in your headline as an obscure synonym of “a substitute” or “stand-in” for the real thing. But perhaps you didn’t intend the double entendre.

    I found your suggested questions, however, to be very helpful, and will use some of them tomorrow during a meeting with a potential client.

    Tina Holden Burroughs

  2. YES! I intentionally used the term fluffers. I think fluffers work in biz too; invited folks who are there to warm up the bidding process without ever getting a chance for the money shot.

    BUT, glad you likd the info!

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