Your key to success: Tender Interview Skills

posted on: 13th December 2019 by Propeller Studios

Congratulations! You’ve been successful with your tender and have been invited to the Interview Stage. So, you’ve got to start brushing up on your tender interview skills.

You now have to present to, and be interviewed by, the evaluation panel who will decide whether to award you the contract or not. No pressure then!

The Interview stage allows the buyer and supplier the opportunity to meet, and also to discuss the finer elements of the tender for the client to understand how you will deliver the contract. You have to give them the confidence that you are the best option for them.

However, presenting for a bid is no different from delivering any other kind of presentation – whether it’s a sales pitch or presenting an award, having good presentation skills will improve your success rates.

More and more, panels want to meet the operational and delivery teams, rather than the salesperson who won’t be included in the contract at a later stage. The downside can be that these team members don’t feel comfortable presenting to a panel – especially when the stakes are so high.

Here are our presentation tips to ensure your team’s success and improve their tender interview skills:

Preparation

The best thing you can do for yourself is preparation. The panel want to see you know the contract well before giving you their backing. In order to prepare for a tender presentation, some of the things you need to consider include:

  • understanding your customer’s requirements
  • the work you have been bidding for
  • how you’re going to deliver the presentation
  • whether you will be presenting alone or as part of a team.

Having a preparation timeline of when you’ll complete each stage of the presentation will make you feel more prepared.

Most importantly, remember to read the tender you originally submitted. This is likely to be the foundation on which your presentation will be based, so you need to make sure you are familiar with the source material. The more prepared you feel, the more confident you will be. You and your presentation team will need to collectively pre-empt any challenging questions and have answers ready.

Research

Read up on the buyer organisation. They won’t expect you to know everything, but they will expect you to know the basics. For example, read their website, find out who their Managing Director is, know where they are based; these details are essential. You should also re-read the tender documents and your submitted bid, which may be stored on some bid management software. The more informed you are about the organisation, the more the panel will relate to you. The key to success is relationship building. Start that relationship on the right foot.

Format of the presentation

You need to decide how you are going to physically deliver the presentation. Are you going to use PowerPoint, or are you just going to talk to them? There are benefits and drawbacks to both options, so there is no wrong way to do it. Using a PowerPoint and handouts will benefit you as it backs up your points visually.

Don’t just read off the slides, word for word, as this will send the panel to sleep. Keep the PowerPoint brief and be imaginative – use infographics to enhance your points, rather than long lists of bullet points. A PowerPoint should be an aid – not the script.

Think about the technology you’ll use and what your surroundings will be like. Does the venue have a projector and screen, or will you need to bring your own? Think about these things before you get there so you don’t have any nasty surprises.

Original content

The content needs to be original; don’t just copy and paste from a previous presentation. If you create the presentation from scratch, it will be much easier for you to learn as they are your own words. It’s much easier to present something that you have created yourself.

Keep the presentation as simple as possible – limit corporate emphasis as much as possible. Tailor it to the requirements of the contract. You should follow the agenda that they have provided for you. All the panel really want to hear about is the benefits of the tender for them. So, highlight the benefits and added value that you will be giving them, and they will sit up and listen.

Your presentation should follow the agenda that the client has issued to you.

Decide a front person for the interview

Designate a leader for the interview. Each member of the team will have their specialty, but it’s good to have a focal point. It looks better if the panel asks a question and the leader can field the question to the appropriate staff member. It will make the presentation slicker and more professional. A good leader would be someone like the Project or Operations Manager.

If you are presenting as part of a team, decide whether each person will cover a specific section, or whether it will be more of an open forum. You will need to coordinate with team members to make sure they know what they are covering.

Put yourself in their shoes

The panel will have questions, and you need to think about the types of queries they have so you can pre-empt them and have positive answers already prepared. One good way to do this is to think about the contract from their perspective. What are their needs? They are looking to you as a solution, so think about their pain points and how you can solve them.

Rehearse

Ask colleagues if you can practice presenting in front of them. By presenting to people who aren’t so close to the tender and presentation, they can offer critiques, praise and offer ideas that you may not have thought of. It will also help you learn the material and prepare you for the interview.

This will also help you with timings. There is nothing worse than getting the timing wrong; too short and you will look unprepared, too long and you will bore the audience. Presentation times will vary from tender to tender, but make sure you stick to your allotted time – if you reach your maximum amount, the client could cut your presentation off.

Dealing with nerves

It’s only natural to be nervous ahead of an important stage in the procurement process. After all, this is the final opportunity to impress. Take deep breaths, smile, and engage with your audience. It’s a professional presentation, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be friendly. The more engaged you are the with the panel, the more engaged they will be with you. Talking at them will just send them to sleep, so encourage conversation where appropriate. If you feel you are having a conversation with them rather than just presenting, it will ease you into the presentation and your nerves will disappear.

Think about how you will position yourself during the presentation. Will you sit or stand? Most people may stand during a presentation because it makes them feel in control. However, if you get a serious case of the jelly legs or are petrified of standing in front of a panel, there is nothing wrong with sitting. If you can project your voice and they can see you, sitting isn’t an issue. At the end of the day, you must feel comfortable and keep control of your nerves to deliver the best presentation you can.

Want to improve your tender interview skills?

Did you know that our bid consultants can help you design your presentations and offer practical interview guidance? Get in touch with us to see how we can improve your success at all stages of the bid process.