To increase your odds of getting a signed contract, score big at the project interview. But keep in mind you won't get enough points by competing on price alone. More and more, construction 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 different criteria, including overall value, team members, creativity, quality, construction methods, experience, and price.
As they evaluate you, remember clients don't care about what you've done or what you've built, clients only care about what you'll do for them. Tell them how you'll help solve their problems and meet their project goals.
Seven Steps to Win Big
- Use the Project Team Approach. 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 in the interview. When the owner does all the talking, the customer doesn't get to know the team.
- Research the Client. 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.
- Gather Maximum Information About the Project. Visit the project site with the whole team before the interview. Look for creative ideas, value-added opportunities, design enhancements, and project short-term and long-term needs.
- Use A Prepared Agenda. Teams that “wing it” look unprepared. Using a printed, prepared agenda for the meeting shows your team is competent, organized and ready to proceed.
- Be Ready to Defend Yourself. 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 never badmouth your competition.
- Use Visuals. 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.
- Rehearse. A one-time walkthrough could be your winning move.
The Project Interview Agenda
- Introductions. Have each team member stand up, introduce themselves and describe their title, position, project role and similar experience.
- Client presentation. Always let the client present first. Eighty percent of the interview time should be spent listening to the client. Then ask questions including: What are their selection criteria and most important aspect of the project? Who have they used in the past and why? What roles do they want their contractor, architect, engineers and team members to play?
- Present your company. This is the least important part of your interview - keep it short. Cover company history, values, vision, similar projects, and clients. Explain why this project and this client are very important to your company.
- Team presentation. 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 presentation.
- Project presentation. Each team member tells the client exactly how they will contribute to the project.
- Project scope and price. Explain what's included in your scope of work and price - from start to finish.
- Summary of project goals. Be sure to incorporate your client's goals and objectives into this summary of what you'll do for them and how.
- Ask for the order. If you don't ask, the answer is no. Each team member asks for the order and describes the importance of this project to them.
- Thank your client for the interview and answer questions.
- Set a follow-up date. Offer an onsite tour of similar projects that would help sway the customers' opinion. Focus on how you helped other clients and how you can solve problems and make their project a success.