So perhaps the secret to success is how successful we are at still doing ‘the right things’ when opportunities present themselves at the most awkward times and how we make the best use of time.
So, for the record, here’s how I’m approaching the conference to make sure that people coming to the presentation find it informative, stimulating and, above all memorable, and to make the best possible use of the opportunity.
The first thing I had to think about was a theme and a title.
The easy way out might have been to convince myself that all I have to do is talk about managing the process of responding to tenders. After all, the delegates will all be professionals working in this area and should naturally be attracted by the subject matter. But here’s the issue: it’s a two day conference and people will be hearing plenty of this stuff.
As it turns out, I’m on near the end of the final day and delegates have to choose between my presentation and 3 others. Would people really be cramming into my seminar room for 45 minutes of very worthy dos and don’ts of bids and proposals? I think not.
The first principle, therefore, is to consider your audience. If you’re bidding in a competitive process think how many times the contracting body is going to hear the same points made in much the same way. How are they going to remember what you said?
Time is a fundamental one. For our purposes it moves at a fixed rate. You cannot ‘make’ time just because there is a tight deadline. All you can do is reassign priorities and make the best possible use of the time that’s available. As time ticks away you have to ensure that all of the things that you know you should do (including rehearsing your presentation at least 10 times), actually get done.
Think of, and plan EVERYTHING
So a critical process for me was to work out all of the things I needed for the presentation: structure, arguments, slides, graphics and rehearsal. What do all these mean in terms of time and when, exactly, am I going to do everything?
Failing to plan this way is when you end up desperately trying to rehearse your presentation in the back of the car on the way to meeting the client or, just as bad, turning your presentation slides into a script.
The other aspect of time management for me was how to use the rest of the conference in the most effective way. How can I plan my time to ensure that I get to meet all of the people I want to see? Like so much in business development it comes down to preparation and planning. Seeing who’s going to be there, making contact before the event and arranging appointments. You could, of course, roll up on day one, look at the exhibitor and delegate lists and hope for the best.
By the way, those of you who know a bit of physics will be aware that time isn’t actually constant in all conditions. You’ll be glad to know that we cover a bit of this in the presentation.
Science lovers will also be pleased to hear that we’re getting into the laws of motion, gas laws, quantum theory and more. But don’t worry if you’re not a scientist, all will be explained; these all have a relationship with proposals, bids and tenders.
By addressing the points in a less obvious way I’m hoping that I’ll make you think differently about how you approach tenders and that you’ll remember what I said far more effectively than if I just told you in an unimaginative way.
People engage when you make them think. So here’s another question: when you respond to a tender do you just provide the information that was asked for, or do you show your expertise by getting the awarding body to think about their objectives and how the solution needs to be implemented?
Ultimately, winning contracts has a lot to do with building confidence and trust. We don’t do it through overt selling but by demonstrating that we know what we’re doing. Rather than just say the right things, we actually do them too. That’s what I’m hoping to show the delegates next week.