Yup. There it is. Another week, another rejection. There’s no denying it hurts, but as an actor, rejection comes with the job. It’s brutal. You get tantalisingly close to landing your dream role, only to be rejected time and time again. If you’re not careful you can start to feel like a spectacular loser.
It’s the same as losing pitches. Sometimes it feels as if you’ll never get past the “you were a close second” stage. Before you know it self-doubt starts to creep in and morale in the agency quickly plummets.
There’s been a lot of chatter about pitching recently and in particular pitching without creative work. While we all know that winning without pitching should be the ultimate goal, it seems unlikely that the system will have changed much in 2024. Whether we like it not, pitches are here to stay and it’s likely many agencies will experience that “close second” feeling at least once in the next 12 months. So how can you pick yourself up after yet another “close second”? How can you drag yourself out of a pitch-losing mire and set yourself on a pitch-winning streak instead?
- “Book the room, not the job.” This is a mantra that actors use before heading into an audition. Even if you don’t get the role, simply being in the room and being seen is a positive step and often you’ll be asked back by the casting team to read for different roles in future projects. The same applies for pitching. Keep in mind that even though you didn’t win the pitch, the prospective client was still interested enough to engage you this far in the process. What’s more, five lost pitches are much more likely to be sources of new business than five cold prospects with whom you have no relationship. They are high-value contacts, and relationships with them must be nurtured. Lost pitches aren’t always closed doors.
- Get pitch feedback. You may never get the whole story about why another agency was chosen over yours, but if you don’t ask, you don’t get. When you lose a pitch you deserve to understand why. Appointing an external consultant to conduct the pitch feedback will result in deeper insights and understanding on where you might have fallen short.
- Don’t take things personally. Take honest feedback and constructive criticism as a gift. Be gracious, thank the client for their feedback and avoid the temptation to be defensive or aggressive about losing. You don’t want to miss out on future opportunities with this or other clients. In short, don’t be a sore loser.
- Focus on what you CAN control and stop agonising over what you can’t. This is so important for actors as so much of the casting process is out of their control. When an actor is cast in a role it’s rarely about their talent; it’s about their height, weight, hair colour, voice, fit with the rest of the cast, or any other characteristic that they can’t control. The only thing an actor can control is their performance in the room. Fortunately for agencies, there’s so much more throughout the pitching process that is in their control: the internal pitch process, the briefing, the agency / client relationship, the content, the strategy, the creative, the delivery of the pitch presentation. Do all you can to turn up as your very best selves on pitch day (see point 5) and don’t waste time agonising over the things that are out of your control.
- Take steps to address the missteps and weaknesses that were identified in your team. Most of the time there is an opportunity to improve somewhere. Often it comes down to the way the pitch presentation is delivered. When you consider that 67% of pitches are lost because of softer factors over and above harder factors* it makes you wonder why so much time is spent solving the problem, but so little time given to honing those softer skills that might just win you the pitch.
Actors who handle rejection well think of auditions as an opportunity for a creative experience. If you can walk away with your head held high and a smile on your face, then you’ve already won. There’s no question that agencies should do all they can to avoid the cost of pitching, but as the current pitching model looks set to stay, perhaps agencies can start thinking of pitches in the same way; as an opportunity for a creative experience, a chance to meet new people, start new relationships, advance their pitch game and start winning. Either way, planning how to master the art of losing should be a key part of an agency’s pitch preparation process. Because let’s face it, no-one wants to feel like a spectacular loser.**
*Up To The Light What Clients Think Survey 2019 /2020
**And when you finally win, it feels all the sweeter. You might catch a very brief glimpse of me in Call the Midwife on Christmas Day… 😉
If you or team would like help honing those all-important softer skills so you can win more pitches in 2024, give me a call or drop me a line: 07940 519657 | firstname.lastname@example.org