Shortlisted after submitting a proposal? Now is the time sales and proposal teams must align. Use these tips to create an effective proposal presentation.
Proposal generation is often a key role in sales enablement. Often, after a proposal is submitted, the RFP issuer invites shortlisted bidders to present their proposal on-site. As a result, proposal teams and sales must work together to create a high-quality proposal presentation.
Proposal presentations are critical. This is an opportunity to address questions the selection panel has. Additionally, the selection panel may compare your presentation to your competitors to sift out who is more technically competent.
No matter the purpose, proposal presentations require proposal teams and sales to align. Here are 6 tips for your next proposal presentation:
1. Define Your Agenda
Prospective clients and investors frequently ask for a presentation after they’ve received proposal submissions. Most often, they need to gain a better understanding of the proposal. Sometimes, they want information clarified. Other times, there was a question left out of the RFP that they now need to be answered. And, sometimes, they want to compare your proposed plan against that of a competitor’s.
In other words, your audience has an agenda. So should you!
Define your agenda before constructing your proposal. The order of presentation slides should easily unfold once an agenda is defined — no matter if the goal is to offer an opportunity or solve a challenge. Be clear about the presentation’s agenda during delivery. It’s helpful to include an agenda slide that entails:
- Company history
- Defining the proposed plan
- Spelling out benefits
- Opportunity for questions
2. Start with a Story
What’s more compelling: A story? Or slide after slide of data? “While clients value data, they are also realistic about what data can – and cannot – tell them,” states John Hall of HubSpot, “They’ve seen many projects fail despite the glowing research results and they’ve seen projects succeed despite the lack of any data to back it up.”
Introduce the slides of data, charts, and graphs with a story. Storytelling has a positive impact on content. In fact, the human brain reacts considerably different when presented with facts versus stories. By sheer human nature, leading with a story will cause the selection panel to be more interested in the contents of your proposal presentation.
3. Think Lean
Lean thinking improves interactions with clients. Lean is commonly applied as a model for manufacturing systems. Lean thinkers drive value by eliminating practices that don’t add value to customers. Forbes contributor, Hakan Ener, suggests applying lean thinking to your proposal presentation. Avoid simply jumping to long-term projections of the future.
When speaking with potential business investors, clients, or partners: only ask for the resources that will cover the next phase of your action plan. Ask yourself if your presentation talking points provide immediate value.
4. Create a Gleaming Presentation
A proposal presentation is similar to a job interview. If you’re supposed to dress for the job you want, your presentation should be dressed for the business you want to win.
A poorly designed proposal presentation can detract from your talking points. A proposal presentation that is haphazardly thrown together could be perceived as indicative of poor quality to your business offering as well. Some of Small Business’s general best practices in presentation design include:
- Limiting one idea per slide
- Using a large font size
- Keeping a consistent, subtle background
- Ordering slides to the defined agenda
- Presenting easy-to-read charts, graphs, and tables
5. Ask Questions
A proposal presentation doesn’t mean you should talk, talk, talk. In fact, too much talking can do damage to your proposal. A few minutes into the start of the presentation, pause and ask the selection panel or client a question.
A Stanford GSB lecturer and public speaking expert, Matt Abrahams, outlines two primary purposes of asking your audience questions:
- Questions connect with the audience.
- Questions build your confidence.
For example, you can ask polling questions: Does this align with your needs?
6. Provide Handouts
Printed presentations help guide the selection panel. They can follow along, write notes, and bring home the information presented — including data, charts, graphs, and tables. Other beneficial handouts include supporting marketing collateral or sales literature in addition to the proposal itself. These handouts should contain compelling content and graphics that effectively reinforce your points.
Yet another benefit, printed materials solidify your proposed plan. Handouts can further define any resources needed or associated costs. Be sure that handout information doesn’t contradict what’s in the already submitted proposal.