Should incumbents pitch?
Here's an interesting old nugget, that's sure to get strong views coming in!
We've just been asked by one of our clients if we'd like to pitch for the redesign and build of their website - a site we built about 3 years ago and have maintained and developed since then. I am now mulling this over, wondering whether it's worth the time and effort when the odds are clearly stacked against us.
Statistically, an incumbent agency is very unlikely to retain an account. My own research and experience over the past 20 odd years would bear this out - about 5-10% of incumbents successfully retain business after a competitive pitch.
My own view is that if a client you have worked with for a number of years feels the need to go to tender (assuming this is optional and not a mandatory requirement) then they are saying that they're looking for fresh ideas and a change of relationship. Cost is often not the main reason to go for tender. If it was, then you could expect some form of negotiation to precede the tender. I have found that it's more to do with approach, personalities/chemistry or that there has been a change of key personnel at the client side - these can be powerful drivers of change.
I found this very interesting article when searching this very topic and recommend that you take a read of it.
Pitching takes time and money and so represents a calculated gamble. As the incumbent, you understand the client requirements, complexities of the site and what the relationship demands and returns. It's a judgement call and often agencies are not in a position to have a blanket "we don't pitch for existing accounts" ruling.
Fortunately, we are in good shape, so can make a cool headed decision. Should we jump, or wait to be pushed - now that is the question.
What do you think?