You Didn’t Lose Your Last Bid Because of Price – Part 2: Presentation

audience Last week we discussed why you lose a bid during the proposal phase and it isn’t about the price. This week we’re discussing the presentation round. We tapped the brain of our presentation coach, the founder of Speak Simple and writer of the book Speak Simple – Stop Presenting, Start Interpreting, Erica Olson, to give us insight into the presentation round.

Many companies attribute the loss of a bid to something that was beyond their control, like politics, the economy, or their price not being right. If your scope and budget numbers were good enough to get you shortlisted to the presentation round, then the numbers are not the reason the bid was lost. In most cases, it’s the presentation that kills the bid and it’s the presentation that is overlooked as being the true problem. Here are the most common reasons I see why construction companies lose bids in the presentation round:

  1. Recite the Proposal – Much time and effort was put into making sure the paper bid was well put together, not missing information, and easily readable. The chronic problem with bid-related presentations is the lack of effort in preparing, causing a tendency to simply recite the proposal.
    Since the proposal was submitted weeks if not months ago, it has been thoroughly examined enough to be shortlisted, means your credentials have also been reviewed. Reciting the proposal during your presentation and focusing on yourself doesn’t add any information about why you should be chosen winner — instead, it shows laziness and a lack of effort. Each bid is a once in a lifetime opportunity to showcase your passion and credibility and how you will help others. The selection committee wants to see why you have an intriguing approach to this project. In other words, the selection committee wants to know how you will help them, they already know enough about you.
  2. Talking in Code – Regardless of what you think or suspect, there is bound to be at least one person on the selection committee who doesn’t know what they are getting into and doesn’t understand the jargon. This person is scared to ask anything, but make sure you don’t leave that person behind. Many construction companies continue to rattle off code that the industry or company uses. Telling the selection committee that ABC fits into KFG doesn’t help me understand, instead the audience is more confused than ever. To ensure that absolutely everyone understands means you have to cover the basics and focus on the information, not the jargon. The selection committee doesn’t even want to know what ABC means, they only want to know the end result.
  3. The Team Doesn’t Look Like a Team – Notification about being shortlisted is oftentimes a shock that doesn’t have much time for celebration. The subs have already been chosen so you should know who will be involved in the presentation. A major mistake that team presenters make is preparing separately and throwing it all together the night before or even the morning of the presentation. Attempting to combine several individual presentations doesn’t make a team presentation and it’s painfully obvious that the team isn’t a team at all. The entire presentation team must prepare for and create a presentation together for the end result to feel like a team. A team that practices their presentation will appear more cohesive than a team that works in the field together.
  4. Team Members Speak Over Each Other – It may seem like a good idea at the time to add just a little bit of information to what the other is saying. To the audience it looks like the team is in disagreement and arguing to set the records straight. This is especially true for the Questions & Answers portion of the presentation. It is important to identify who will be the ring master and direct the question to the right team member. To avoid taking all credibility away from other team members, only one person should answer a question (after the ring leader) because with each additional person’s input, the credibility of the team lessens.
  5. Poor Mechanics – The selection committee does not expect anyone to be a seasoned speaker like Steve Jobs, but listening to your team should not be a chore either. Make sure each speaker looks and sounds professional, speaks up and clearly. Many people talk fast when nervous and this makes it difficult for the selection committee to follow. Awareness and practice can improve every speaker’s mechanics.

I’m sure you’ve seen bad presentations before. Practice will help overcome 80% of stage fright and ensure your company is represented in the best light.