Great business proposal presentations are critical.
Having completed the whole proposal development and production cycle, producing a proposal which offers the client the best of all possible solutions, many proposal writers will put their masterpiece into an envelope and dispatch it by post or courier.
But formal proposal presentations can often be the difference between success and failure – and where possible you should always look to make a formal business proposal presentation.
What if I’m Not Allowed a Business Proposal Presentation?
In some situations you will not be given the opportunity to make a proposal presentation – if that’s your current situation then I’d suggest you skip past this module and go directly to Module 11 ‘Write a Great Proposal Cover Letter’ .
My book, Winning Business Proposals, becomes available in e-book form in Q1 2010. There is an entire section of the book devoted to a step-by-step approach to developing and delivering unbeatable proposal presentations.
If you’d like to be alerted when the book becomes available please send me your contact details using the form at the foot of this page.
Meantime, this is a very much shorter overview of how to create business proposal presentations.
Building Your Business Proposal Presentations
A successful business proposal presentation contain all of the eight elements illustrated in this figure . Each step is discussed in detail below.
Part 1: Presentation Opening
As with all interpersonal communications, the first few minutes of business proposal presentations often make or break the presentation – they set the tone for the whole presentation.
- Introduction. Your initial words in opening your business proposal presentations should be to thank your audience for the opportunity to present your proposal to them.
- Agreement of Objectives – The ‘Objectives Statement’. The next thing you must do is agree with your audience the objectives which you share for this business proposal presentation. The best way to do this is by summarizing the client’s requirement in a form with which your client will feel comfortable, and agreeing with them that you are there to present and discuss a solution which will meet these requirements. Be sure that your “Objectives Statement” reflects your client’s view of their problem.
In no more than a minute or two, your opening should set the scene for your proposal presentation, reminding your audience as to why you are all there, and leading them smoothly into your suggested agenda for the presentation.
Part 2: “Suggested” Agenda
Introduce your “suggested” agenda, asking your audience to add any topics which they feel should be included.
Getting their approval on your agenda gets them accustomed to working with you to meet common objectives – it can also uncover any issues which you may not have come across up to this point.
In most cases, however, you will find your audience happy to proceed on the basis of your suggested agenda.
Part 3: Company Profile
There are three basic elements you should address in this Company Profile part of your proposal presentation:
- History of the Company. Your client will want to feel that whomever they give their business to will be around to provide them with ongoing support in the future.
- Skills and Experience. It is important that you outline some of the previous projects you have undertaken which have provided you with experience that will be valuable in the delivery of this proposed solution.
- Client References Client references are perhaps the most compelling credibility builder you can put in front of your prospective client.
Part 4: Client’s Requirements and Objectives
If you have worked through the Winning Proposal Methodology outlined throughout the FREE Business Proposal Course, then you will be able to speak about the client’s business as authoritatively as any of your client audience.
You should now use the ‘Outline Requirements Statement’ that you developed in Module 3 of the FREE Business Proposal Course as the basis of your discussion of your client requirement.
Revisit those slides, ensuring that they make all of the points you wish to make on your understanding of the requirement.
Summarizing the requirement in this way allows any of the audience who have a different view of any aspect of the requirement to let you know now, before you begin to discuss your proposed solution in detail.
Part 5: The Proposed Solution
The presentation material for your Outline Solution Statement (prepared in Module 4 of the Business Proposal Course) can be used largely as is, with only as much cosmetic work as is necessary to tie it into the ‘look & feel’ of the rest of your business proposal presentation.
Part 6: Benefits of the Proposed Solution
As you present this discussion, be mindful of the analysis you did on your competitors and the Proposal Strategy you adopted (Module 5 of the Business Proposal Course).
If a given benefit is absolutely unique, then go to great pains to position it as an absolute “must have” for any successful solution, proposed by anyone, to meet the client’s requirement.
Part 7: Costs
In any presentation where you present costs, be sure to introduce them only after the “Requirement-Solution-Benefits” part of the proposal presentation – otherwise your costs could simply turn the client off before you get to make the key points in favour of your proposal.
Regardless of how strong your proposed solution no client really wants to have to pay for it!
In general, if your costs are higher than might be expected, or higher than any competitive alternatives, and tend to put you at a competitive disadvantage, then you would be well advised to conduct a detailed Return On Investment (ROI) analysis in advance of the presentation, and be well prepared to demonstrate that the costs are relatively low when compared to the superior bottom line contribution your solution will make to the client.
Part 8: The Close
A successful proposal presentation will move you substantially closer to doing business with your target client and may even allow you to “close” the deal there and then.
- Ask for the Business. Whether you believe it realistic to expect to close the deal there and then or not, you should always ask for the business.
- Next Steps. The final thing you will do before you conclude the presentation session is to agree with your client what the next steps are to be.
If you have noted issues or questions, then you will reiterate these to the client, committing as to when and how you intend to address them.
If you haven’t yet secured the business, you will want to find out from the client how they will proceed from that point in making the decision.
After Your Business Proposal Presentations
As soon as you return to your office, you should write and despatch a letter to all of the attendees by way of follow-up on your presentation. In that note you should:
- Thank them for the time they took to meet with you to discuss how you might “work together in implementing a successful solution to their requirements”.
- Summarize the main points raised, and any particularly important conclusions reached or views accepted.
- Clarify any points which the presentation revealed your client might find unclear in the proposal document itself.
- Summarize the “next steps” you agreed, noting any time-scales decided upon.
- Outline as many reasons as you possibly can for maintaining ongoing contact with anyone involved in the assessment cycle.
- Put yourself “at their disposal” for any problems they have with, or questions they have on, your proposal.
Complete this note on the same day as the presentation, or as soon after as you possibly can. Don’t trust it to the postal service – have it delivered by courier.
In the days and/or weeks that follow the presentation, and until a decision is announced, maintain as close contact as possible with the client decision-makers.
And Now For the Hardest Part . . .
You have given the business your best shot and you are finding as many reasons as possible to stay in contact with the assessors. All you can really do now is wait.
When the decision is announced and you know whether you have been successful or not, Module 12 of the FREE Business Proposal Course (“Win or Lose – Find Out Why”) will prove very useful.