I also post to the AAAA blog on business development and I posted the same question "Should junior staff attend pitches or not, that is the question." After some spirited blogging on the topic of bringing day-to-day staff to pitches, there are three points that bubble up to the surface.
First – While it may seem obvious, bring people to pitches that present well. Everyone agrees that poor presenting, junior staff should not go to pitches but agencies would be well served to make their senior staff clear the same high-bar that they set for the junior staff. Do not expect prospective clients to be able to see through the poor communication skills to see the genius that is your poor presenting VP.
Second – The bar is lower for junior staff. When a VP gets up at a pitch and does a great job, the VP does not exceed the prospective client’s expectations. Prospects expect to be wowed by VP level staff. When a junior person gets up and does a great job, they exceed the prospect’s expectations. In addition, the prospect now thinks that every junior level person is as smart as the one that just presented. Make their part easy (perhaps the industry overview) but give them a chance to shine.
Third - If they (junior staff) attend, they talk. While it may be tempting to bring a junior person to the pitch but not give the a speaking part, think about the message that this sends to the prospective client. The only message that the prospect can take away from this is that while you are happy to bill the prospect 100% for this person, you do not trust the junior person enough to talk at the presentation. Not the message you want to send to a client. While we are on the topic, make sure to give the junior person a part that is 5 or so minutes long. Most presenters get better after the initial nervousness. If the part is too short, the client will only get to see them at their most nervous.
I am not suggesting loading up pitch teams with junior staff but it may be smart to bring one or two people that will working with the client on a daily basis. They will need some coaching and plenty of time to prepare (no changing their part at the last minute), but the energy that they bring to the pitch may very well help you win.