Questions to ask and answer when an agency loses a pitch

In every agency pitch, there is typically only one winner and a list of losers.

They may have dropped out at credentials and chemistry, at the workshop or presentation, or in the final negotiation. But no matter where or when in the process, the big question that must be answered is, “Why”? This is something we are diligent in doing and are often surprised by the reaction of most agencies who tell us that very few marketers or procurement teams provide any useable feedback post pitch.

This is incredibly rude and most unprofessional. The reason we insist we provide frank, honest and constructive feedback is because our own experience in new business on the agency side is that it is rare and also because for an unsuccessful it may be the only value that they get from the whole process.

So, the TrinityP3 consultants sat down and each provided a list of questions they recommend agencies ask at the end of a pitch process if they are unsuccessful. It is also a list of questions that any marketer or procurement person starting a pitch process should be prepared and willing to answer if asked by a participating agency. Presented here in alphabetical order.

Anton Buchner

How were we positioned or ranked on price? Can we ask how much higher priced we were? And any specific areas that were above/below the winning agency?

What were the final decision-making criteria and weightings for your decision?

Were there any specific team members that you felt were weaker than in the winning agency?

Was there a specific capability that we didn’t offer? Or that you were specifically looking for in our response?

Can you share if there was a specific cultural mismatch between our teams and yours? And where you felt that we didn’t match.

Who ultimately made the decision on the winning agency?

Darren Woolley

If not provided previously, what were the selection criteria and the weighting and how well did we perform in each?

Did we fail to demonstrate value in our proposal and if so how was this assessed?

How different is your perception of the agency now compared to when you first selected us to pitch?

Based on our performance, would you recommend us to colleagues or friends looking for an agency?

Julian Barrans

How did we score versus the other agencies through your process? Where were we strong and where were we weak?

Based on our performance would you consider us for future pitches?

How well did we tell our ‘agency story’?

Is there any other advice you could provide that could help us going forward?

Kylee Stone

What was the main reason for us not being appointed as the winning agency?

What did you think of our strategic thinking?

What did you think of our creative?

How did our response compare with other agencies?

What could we have done better?

What did we do well?

What did you think of the team and specific people in the meeting?

Kylie Ridler-Dutton

Was our USP clear from the other agencies in written and face-to-face presentation?

What did we do wrong, if anything?

Were there any individuals you can give feedback on from the client POV and your POV, having seen so many agencies?

What was the strongest part of our agencies offering evident or presented during the pitch process?

Nathan Hodges

What are the top 3 reasons we didn’t get through this time? (Only three.)

What is the most important thing for us to change for next time? (Just one.)

What’s the single, biggest thing we need to remember, and keep remembering, for the next time we pitch?

Stephen Wright

Unsuccessful at Chemistry / Credentials

Did we clearly define who we are and in what we believe?

Was this a positioning/ territory that resonated with the client team?

Was our failure to connect more about people or product?

Did we fail to communicate how much we wanted the business?

Did we talk about ourselves too much rather than what we could do for them?

What 3 key learnings should we take away from this?

Unsuccessful from Workshop / Presentation

Can you please provide independent feedback on our people, processes and ideas.

Did we appear to have a robust structure and a process that is a springboard for innovation and ideas?

Were the dynamics of the day wrong?

Were the dynamics/ chemistry of the team wrong?

Did our different teams/ divisions/ companies appear united as a seamless team delivering holistic solutions?

Did we fail to communicate how much we want this business?

What three key learnings should we take away from this?


So, now it is over to you. If you are a marketer or a procurement professional, are there any questions missing from here or are their questions you do not think you should answer?

If you are an agency, are there any questions we have missed, or do you have a killer question you like to use?

Let us know here or on LinkedIn here or Twitter here.


Finally, we would like to acknowledge Lindsay Bennett, Marketing & New Business Director at Doyle Dane Bernbach Australia, whose  question inspired this article.

TrinityP3’s comprehensive Search & Selection process provides extensive market knowledge, tightly defined process and detailed evaluation and assessment. Learn more here