Proposals & Presentations–Part 3: The Winner Is …
This is the third installment of the three-part series about proposals and presentations and features steps to take after the winner is announced.Part one on Winning the Best-Value Construction Proposal and Round Two of the Bid Process: The Presentationare available for review.
Once the Winner Has Been Announced
If the company was not selected, it is a good idea to ask for a debriefing on why it was passed over. A debrief is not the time to grill the client and pressure them into feeling bad about not selecting the company. Doing that will ensure the loss all future bids. A debrief is a look at things from the potential client’s perspective, and will help one better prepare for proposals and presentations in the future. Ask the following open-ended questions.
- What made the chosen company stand out?
- Which sections were scored more heavily? (If this was not already established in the RFP beforehand.)
- How many proposals were received? How many were short-listed? Did the company in question score closer to the top or to the bottom?
- Was the prospective client familiar with the company before the bid?
- How could the company in question improve to the point of being chosen in the future?
Again, this is not about the past; it is about the future. Sometimes all things are equal, and the client picks from their gut, but hopefully they can give you information that leads to future wins. Failure happens, but learning from mistakes and failure is the key. Doing a good debrief shows the client that the company cares about a future relationship and working diligently to make team improvements; sometimes, this can even lead to uncontested work in the future.
If the company wins the project, sincerely thank the client and show appreciation by celebrating with the team. Post wins to the company website’s news section, social media channels and inform the media if it’s a high-profile project. Notify the entire company so everyone knows the good news and to show everyone they are part of a winning team. Also, don’t forget to get company signs out on the jobsite to increase visibility.
The construction phase is the most vital component of the project in terms of the company’s future. The single most powerful marketing tool is the team doing a good job. The greatest marketing tactics in the world are hard-pressed to culminate in success if the team’s performance isn’t up to snuff. A bad reputation is costly to overcome, and takes years of making up for it to do so. Also, a poor safety record makes it hard to compete for future work because the insurance rates are so much higher and disables a company to offer a competitive price. Train the team from the bottom up so that they accurately represent the company to this client and the community. They are the brand’s ambassadors, and their performance brings in new work as much as that of the business development team. A sloppy jobsite reflects on the company, and the next job might be lost because that decision-maker drives by that location regularly and doesn’t like what he sees.
Throughout the project, the project managers and superintendents need to build a relationship with the client. If the client does not like working with someone, they will do everything they can to prevent that team from getting work in the future. Construction is a team sport with numerous subs and vendors–do not forget that the client is also on that team. Also, the best business developers know to start asking about the next project before the current project is completed. The current team has a leg up on all future projects because of intel that may “slip” from the client, and the next project should be the team’s project to lose.
Once the project is completed, take time to celebrate with the team AND the client. It might be with a grand ribbon cutting, open house or an appreciation BBQ. Remember, some projects are a once-in-a-career moment for a client. A small personal token, such as a piece of the refurbished building or picture of a unique spot that clients care about, is perfect because it will remind them of a job well done. This item is also a conversation starter that sits in their office, giving them a reason to talk about the company again and again—which could mean referral opportunities.
Don’t forget to post the completed project to the company website and social media channels, alert the media, and tell your entire company about the job well done. Ask the client for a testimonial while things are fresh and they are still focused on the work done with the company. Have one’s team write up a project summary, and possibly even a case study about the project in question. These items will be extremely valuable for future marketing efforts, proposals, presentations and awards.