How to create winning Bid Presentations

sales tender presentations

At Plus Two, the makers of Presentia, we have been developing compelling Bid Presentations for over a decade – this article shares some of our learning and advice.

Most of us involved in selling our organisation’s products / services will be familiar with the following scenario:-

– We receive a request for proposal (RFP) – almost always requiring a detailed response in a tight timescale – followed shortly thereafter by a Presentation.

– We pull together a bid team.

– The bid team works frantically to provide accurate answers to the plethora of questions asked. Hoping that many of the questions have already been answered in previous bids so they can simply cut and paste.

– As the deadline for submission approaches the team put in increasingly long hours as they get things finalized and ready for the review / authorisation process.

– You deliver the response to the RFP with minutes to spare.

– The team collapse exhausted and retires for liquid refreshment!
And only then do they turn their attention to the Presentation which is now only a few days away!  So this becomes a rush job by a team that is already jaded. So what typically happens is that the vast majority of the quality effort goes into the RFP rather than the Presentation.

My question is this – is this the best way to win the business? I fully accept that the time has to be spent on the RFP response as if you don’t provide a comprehensive response you won’t be in the game.

However I’ve been in many Presentations where it’s abundantly clear that many in the audience have – how shall I put it – not read or perhaps more charitably not remembered the RFP response.  Now I have some sympathy with them – these documents often run to many pages and are rather dry – so it’s very tempting to read the Executive Summary and the Costs section and leave it there!

Generally speaking all the organizations short-listed are all capable of doing the job. Whilst you are normally required to respond to the RFP in a predefined structure this is not normally the case with the Presentation.   So the Presentation gives you the opportunity to standout  – ensure that your USP’s are clearly articulated – and start to establish relationships with the key people.

Our key point is that the relative importance of the Presentation is often undervalued.

We have helped many clients with Bid Presentations across a wide range of business sectors helping our clients secure multi million multi pound contracts. So we’ve gained huge amount of experience in what it takes to create compelling Presentations.

Some time ago one of our clients was biding for a large 5-year contract worth close to £200m and along with 3 competitors was invited to present their proposal in 30 minutes (which seemed a ridiculously short time given the contract value).

We created the Presentation for them and waited with bated breath to hear how it went.  Turns out that they were with the client for 2 hours rather than the 30 minutes allocated – in part as they were so struck by the Presentation. This gave them the opportunity to get their key messages across and to bond with the client personnel. So the Presentation had clearly hit the mark.

And yes they won the contract!

So in summary the generalized advice we would give is as follows:-

  1. Start the process of developing the Bid Presentation in parallel with the RFP response – don’t do it sequentially. This will certainly improve the quality of the Presentation but may well also help the RFP response.
  2. Think through early on in the process the key points you want to make which will differentiate you from the competition. Make sure that they are fully reflected in a consistent way in both the Presentation and the Proposal. In the Presentation make then very clear expressing them as a benefit to the client and don’t be afraid to repeat at the end of the Presentation as you close.
  3. At the outset determine clear responsibilities / budget for the development f the Presentation. Think through what the business is worth, the probability of winning it and consequently the level of resource you are prepared to commit.
  4. Treat the Presentation as just as important as the RFP response – make sure that someone is clearly accountable for the delivery of the Presentation
  5. Give the Presentation a real visual WOW factor – use really high quality designers and use graphics in 2 and 3D to make it visually compelling and relevant – keeping text to a minimum. We often find that this resource isn’t available in-house – one reason that clients use us to support their Bid Presentations. This shows the prospective Client that you have made a real effort and aren’t simply trotting out your standard stuff.
  6. Do not use PowerPoint. Unfortunately people’s eyes tend glaze over when confronted with a PowerPoint Presentation; there is a good reason for the ‘Death by PowerPoint’ badge. Present in something different and you will immediately grab your audience’s attention.
  7. In the same way that you ‘cut and paste aspects of the RFP response it should be possible to do the same for the Presentation. This will keep costs down and help with getting the Presentation ready in time.
  8. Make sure that you are able to leave / distribute / make available soft and hard versions. Sometimes key influencers and even decision makers may not be at the Presentation.

If you would like some help with your next bid why not give us a call on 0203 239 2422 – you have nothing to lose but plenty to win!

See examples of our presentation design work here