New research reveals that the relentless pressure of pitching for new business is taking a heavy toll on professionals in creative and commercial roles.
According to a recent survey commissioned by Pitch, a collaborative presentation platform, stress related to the pitching process has driven one in nine professionals (11%) to leave their jobs.
The survey, which gathered responses from over 1,000 business professionals in the US and the UK who regularly engage in pitching activities, paints a worrisome picture of the challenges these individuals face.
It highlights that 50 percent of respondents find the pitching process “stressful,” while 26 percent have either personally taken time off work or know a colleague who has due to pitch-related stress.
Economic uncertainty is further exacerbating the situation, with 73 percent of those surveyed expressing concerns that it will reduce the number of opportunities to win business or secure funding in the coming year. Additionally, 68 percent cited the economic situation as an additional source of pressure.
This growing concern over the mental well-being of professionals engaged in pitching comes amid broader trends of high employee turnover in these roles. In the United States, the Association of National Advertisers reported an average annual turnover rate of approximately 30 percent, partially attributed to burnout resulting from pitching.
Similarly, in the UK, ad agencies experienced a record 32.4 percent churn rate in 2022, according to the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA).
Who are companies most reliant on?
Sarah Kiefer, Chief Marketing Officer at Pitch, expressed her concerns about the situation, saying, “Companies competing to win business are totally reliant on the creative effectiveness of their team. At a time when winning new clients and funding has never been harder, businesses should be looking at these findings with concern and thinking about how to make the pitching process less stressful.”
Despite the challenging economic climate, the survey revealed that 59 percent of professionals feel more confident about their team’s ability to win pitches. This newfound confidence is attributed to the collaborative benefits of hybrid working, cited by 56 percent of respondents. Remote pitching is also seen as advantageous, with 73 percent agreeing that it saves time and opens up new opportunities.
What about remote pitching?
However, the shift to remote pitching has not been without its drawbacks. Almost seven in ten respondents (69%) believe it is more challenging to build relationships with stakeholders when pitching remotely compared to in-person, and the same number find that remote presentations hinder their ability to obtain feedback. This suggests that teams may be struggling to implement the right tools and processes for success in both virtual and face-to-face pitching scenarios.
The survey also revealed a desire to spend less time on the technical aspects of pitch presentations and more on creativity and relevance. Over two in five (43%) respondents wished for more time spent discussing the structure and content of presentations before diving into the design phase. A similar proportion (42%) found that too much time was wasted on formatting sales decks when it could be better spent developing ideas.
Sarah Kiefer emphasised the importance of these findings, saying, “Pitching for new work is always going to involve pressure — but the survey highlights that more can be done to improve the process, which in turn will reduce employee turnover and general dissatisfaction.”
When asked for advice on improving pitches, respondents frequently cited the following:
- Focus on improving the design of pitch presentations to create impact (17%)
- Better enable your pitching teams with training and collateral (16%)
- Continually analyse what works in pitches to improve your materials (15%)
As professionals continue to navigate the competitive landscape of business pitching, these insights underscore the urgency of addressing stress-related challenges and finding innovative ways to enhance the pitching process.
Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.