3 Key Takeaways for Professional Services Proposal Writing and Oral Presentations

A few days ago I attended a presentation by a representative of one of the largest public school districts in Northern Virginia. It was no surprise that a standing-room-only crowd of architects, engineers, and various other consultants gathered to hear the discussion on upcoming procurements. While those in the room were looking for the elusive “inside” to the next project, I couldn’t help but focus on the presenter's basic yet practical advice:

  1. Be specific:
    Some believe that the thicker the proposal response, the better. Not true. Be clear and concise. Don’t make the reader “guess” your qualifications. Spell them out. Address directly what the requestor is looking for and make it easy for them to find your response. Remember, yours is not the only response they are reading. Finally, don’t make up stuff — it will surface eventually.
  2. Connect:
    We’ve all worked with a technical professionals or project manager that is awesome at their job, but not so hot at speaking in public. That may be the case, but requestors want to hear from the folks working on the actual project. Don’t bring a project manager to the meeting so they can be a wallflower. Requestors don’t want to listen to a principal talk about the history of the firm; they want to hear from someone who will focus on the work to be done. Let the subject matter experts do the talking.
  3. Don’t bait and switch:
    This is a no brainer — don’t do it! The project lead identified in the proposal must be the person attending the oral presentation, and subsequently leading the project. Extraordinary circumstances always happen. Be honest if you must make a change. Alternatively, be clever and show your innovation. With technology tools so prevalent, being present does not have to mean being in the same room — consider using video.

Seems like this is simple advice, but a surprising number of people don't heed this advice. If you do, you will certainly get the requestor’s attention. Good luck!

For more tips on business development activities, download our free ebook: Spiraling Up – How to Create a High Growth, High Value Professional Services Firm


Author: Sylvia Montgomery, CPSM A Senior Partner and the head of Hinge’s A/E/C practice, Sylvia collects many shoes and wears many hats. When she’s not traveling around the country for speaking engagements or client meetings, you will find Sylvia creating marketing and branding strategies for clients, supervising her A/E/C team, developing new business, or working on her personal brand. With a 20+ year career spanning visual communications, strategy, and marketing, and over a decade working in the A/E/C sector, Sylvia brings a creative, business-focused approach to her client engagements.

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