Deliver the proposal
No one proposes marriage to the person of their dreams through the mail, and the same applies to cementing a business relationship. A significant amount of trust has been built by this point through in-person interactions—it would be a shame to lose credibility because of a misinterpretation in the written artifacts. With this in mind, it’s best to deliver a proposal in person.
If you’re not presenting the proposal, someone else is telling your story for you.
In the event the client requires sending a proposal, negotiate up front for an in-person session for the team to walk through the artifacts. Include a note with the RFP such as this:
We appreciate the opportunity to respond to your RFP. We accept with one condition—the solution we offer is a result of a collaborative process between our working cross-functional team and the stakeholder group at your company. To respond, we will require a one-day workshop with the team as well as the opportunity to present our findings in a follow-up session.
Responding blindly to an RFP would imply that all requirements, biases, and objectives have already been defined and are known. If that is the case, we may not be an ideal partner as the [industry vertical] product strategy we bring is at the core of the value we provide. We can make an introduction to several body-shop companies that will simply take your requirements and blindly build what is defined.
If that is not the case, however, we would love to schedule a session and start the journey of building something that demonstrates true ROI for your organization.
After crafting a prototype, a proposal video, a keynote, and many other supporting artifacts, the last step is to prepare to facilitate the proposal presentation. In preparation, take the following steps:
- Assemble the team. Select the individuals from the team to present, including the product manager who ran the workshop along with senior representatives from design and engineering. Divide the content of the proposal between the presenters.
- Rehearse. The story resonates best if the content and the handoffs between the team are well rehearsed.
- Mind the hardware. Verify availability of a high-resolution projector, TV set with HDMI, and internet connectivity for remote attendees (and a Zoom session). If these can’t be verified, bring them.
- Control the seating. Seat the team presenting so they are facing the stakeholders and their backs are to the monitor. It’s a frustrating experience for the audience to constantly flip back and forth between the monitor and the speaker.
- Take notes. Share the task of taking notes and observing the room as the presentation progresses with the presentation team. Note the reactions of individuals, their roles, the areas of friction, and excitement.
- Read the room. Depending on how the audience is reacting to the presentation, adjust the narrative to address those areas or build momentum.
- Follow up fast. Send materials from the presentation immediately after the session (but not before). Provide additional commentary to address areas of concern or questions that were not answered. Continue building credibility for the team’s thought leadership. As a side note, sometimes distributing materials before the presentation session is unavoidable. That’s OK, but take care not to read the materials instead of presenting them.
- Always have a next step. Bake in a scheduled next step after the presentation. Dates and follow-up tasks create momentum and urgency. If the presentation went smoothly but technical stakeholders are not buying in, schedule a follow-up technical deep dive right then and there.