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August 2007

Business Building

Win Big at the Project Interview

To increase your odds of getting a signed contract, you simply need to score big at the project interview. I'm not just talking about your bid — you won't get enough points by competing on price alone. More often, clients pick the winning team at the project interview based on a rating scale in which price is only one factor with limited weight. Clients rank project teams based on five to 10 criteria, including overall value, team members, creativity, quality, construction methods, experience and price.

As they evaluate you, remember that clients don't care about what you've done or what you've built; clients only care about what you'll do for them! You need to tell them how you'll help solve their problems and meet their goals.

Seven Steps to Win Big


The most important factor for most clients is the actual project team. Every valuable team member must be ready to participate, contribute and look professional for the interview.


Learn everything you can about your client's selection criteria before the interview. Discover what's important to them, their history of past projects, and how they award contracts.


Visit the project site with the whole team before the interview. Look for creative ideas, value-added opportunities, design enhancements, and potential short- and long-term needs.


Using a printed, prepared agenda for the meeting shows your team is competent, organized and ready to proceed.


Assume your competitors are going to share any negative information they have about you. Make sure you have a positive story for questions that may arise. And be smart: Never badmouth your competition.


Fifty-seven percent of what your client remembers about your presentation is based on what they see. Thirty-five percent is based on the way you say it. And only 8 percent is based on what you say. Make sure they see lots, and like what they see! Stand up, walk around, point to charts, hand the client photos, and move again. If you can, set up the interview room in advance and post photos, plans and charts on the wall.


A one-time walkthrough could be your winning move.

The Project Interview Agenda


Have each team member stand up, introduce themselves, and describe their title, position, project role and similar experience.


Always let the client present first. Always! Listen 80 percent of the time, talk 20 percent of the time. Ask questions, including: What is their selection criteria and most important aspect of the project? Who have they used in the past and why?


This is the least important part of your interview — keep it short! Cover your company history, values, vision, similar projects and clients. Explain why this project and this client are very important to your company.


Describe how team members will work individually and together. Each team member should discuss their goals and objectives. Keep alert! Emphasize different points based on what you heard from the client's presentation.


Have each team member tell the client exactly how he or she will contribute to the project.


Explain what's included in your scope of work and price, from start to finish.


Be sure to incorporate your client's goals and objectives into this summary of what you'll do for them and how.


If you don't ask, the answer will probably be no! Have each team member ask for the order and describe the importance of this project to them.


Thank your client for the interview and then answer any questions they might have.


Offer an onsite tour of similar projects that would help sway the customer's opinion. Discuss how you helped other clients, and then focus on how you can solve problems and make their project a success.

Throughout the project interview, show them what you'll do for them. Be visual, overcome your client's challenges, score lots of points, and win big!







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