A short while back I was asked to attend my first tender presentation, I have never done one of these before, and I was very nervous as to what questions and how to prepare. So of to google and found a lot of info on how to present, but little on a tender presentation. I have done many small presentations to companies in the past, but this is different.
OK in English, you should, in fact, must prepare – as in life, you only get one chance to make a first impression. Always bear in mind that your presentation is actually a sales pitch – if the customer accepts your pitch, you win the sale. So my 1st point: You need a small team to prepare.
Ideally someone from sales and someone with a business/technical background.
Decide what to focus on & who from your team. Agree a leader – someone to control your team. Consider what questions may asked, think back to others who may have done this before, (consider creating a tender document management system show that you can look back over other tenders) Agree who will say what and who will answer certain types of questions, (if it’s a sales question you don’t really want the techie guy answering). You don’t have to be a ultimate sales person, after asking the customer on my 1 st tender presentation she hinted that in fact they are often more interested in the people who will deliver. Structure: the content of your presentation must be relevant to the tender (don’t just copy the last one).
When preparing your presentation, make sure that your team understand the real needs – not just what you want have put in the tender. As many have written before “For a successful presentation it is essential that you establish a clear objective for your presentation” – http://www.cordelltenders.com.au/Main/News/15.aspx
Point 2 is the old scout moto “Be prepared”
Email the customer who invited you to present, if you can have the agenda and format of the interview beforehand, also ask who will be present and their roles in the organisation. If you haven’t completed point one, make sure you take suitable team members with you. Make sure everyone involved has read the tender, and know your answers to each question that could be asked.
Rehearse in front of an ‘audience’. Ideally people within your organisation who have not been involved in the process. In fact in a ideal world if you have new staff who are unaware of your product use them. Ask one of them to play the role of devil’s advocate. Everyone will tell you to take note cards in to help you….errr we are in the 21 st century now, use a tablet! When using a tablet. Just remember to turn up with it fully charged, put on silent, and turn the screen time-out off. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse and rehearse.
Choose whether to use other visual aids such as graphics, flip charts, slides, models, transparencies, handouts and other materials to communicate and sell your proposal. try and see the room you are presenting in beforehand. Keep slides to a minimum and content small. Use humour if you can but be sparing. Sometimes be prepared to be low tech. Give real examples and explain the benefits not just the features. Limit corporate emphasis – tell them what’s in it for them. Allow time for questions and discussion.
Be confident. Try not to be over confident people think you are arrogant Be yourself. Be Honest. If someone asks a question which you cannot answer properly or correctly, don’t be afraid to admit it and offer to get back to them. Explain why you can’t answer the question. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse and rehearse Make sure that you dress to suit your audience. Never be late! Arrive on time, at least half an hour early for a major presentation, check parking etc.
Don’t brain dump what’s in the tender Never read out a list of pre-prepared bullet points Be careful not to overrun the allotted time. Under no circumstances avoid difficult questions On no account be drawn into an argument Never ever stop rehearsing Make sure that you are not interrupted by your mobile phone Meet up with your team outside the customer offices. Hate to state the obvious, but presenters are always being caught short, please make sure you have visited the “little boys/girls room” Make sure that you have enough business cards to hand around to all those attending your presentation.
When customer is asking you questions, listen very carefully to what they are saying. (Think by saying, “That’s a good question”. Defuse the situation and find neutral ground). You can also reply with a question like. “Can I ask why you are focusing on that particular area?” Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse and rehearse.
Bear in mind, it is your presentation, stay in control, the customer expects you to be in control. (Always remember you are selling your team, your company as being the better business partner. The prospect wants to know that you are good people to work with: comment from a friend)
Evaluate your performance based on tender feedback whether you win or not.