At some point most of us in the A/E business come to realize that “close” only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. That certainly applies to winning projects that you go after!
I’ve worked on many presentations over the last 38 years – and helped sell everything from an industrial engineering study of a picture-framing plant, to the seismic retrofitting for the Golden Gate Bridge. Here’s some of what I have learned over the years about what works:
- Do your homework. Know what the client’s mission is for their organization. Figure out what they really need. Research everything. Find out who they have worked with in the past and what they liked and didn’t like about them.
- Put your best foot forward. Bring those along who know this client best. Bring along your folks who will impress the client the most. Bring the people who would actually work on the job. Bring the boss if you can to show high level interest.
- Introduce yourselves to the selection committee BEFORE the presentation actually starts if you can. This gives you a chance to bond with them. And wear nametags with a big, legible name on them.
- Make everyone who attends do some speaking. If they cannot speak, don’t bring them along. And you need your people to ask questions of the selection committee. Shows interest.
- Explain your knowledge of the project. Show pictures. Talk about their specific needs, not all of your past work.
- Explain why the client should hire your firm. Talk about the actual benefits your services will provide to them, not just features. “P.E.s in all 50 states and 20 years of experience in airport work” is a feature. “We can do it faster than anyone else because we know the people and the inner workings of the Detroit Airport Authority” is a benefit.
- Have good graphic design. Your Power Points should look slick. Your handouts should look professional. Your exhibits should be image-enhancing.
- Be ready for interruptions. Some presentation teams are so well-rehearsed a single interruption blows the whole presentation. Don’t be like that!
- Tell them why they should hire you. Don’t assume they “get” that from all the features you have been talking about (even though I warned you to talk benefits!). Provide the client with a list of good reasons why they should hire your firm.
Do these things and you will win more jobs. I’m sure of it!
Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.