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To win a contract for a large construction project these days, you have to show the customer how and why your company’s proposal gives them the best value.

Your written proposal begins the process. But contracts are often won or lost during the follow-up presentation or interview.

Sometimes you’ll be asked to make a formal presentation with a set agenda and PowerPoint slides. More and more frequently, your team will be asked to participate in an interview.

Both formats—the formal presentation and the interview—require the same amount of preparation and practice.

Three Rules for Making Persuasive Construction Proposal Interviews and Presentations

Rule #1: Begin With Them and Their Needs

Your written proposal has already established your capabilities to some degree. It got you to the next round: the interview or presentation.

So don’t begin by talking about yourself and how great your company is.

Start, instead, by telling the customer what you know about them, their needs, their projectwhat they want and why they want it. You’ll win extra brownie points by pointing out the project’s unique challenges and opportunities.

All you’re trying to do at the beginning is to establish your credibility and to win the customer’s confidence. You want them to let down their guard, to say in effect “You get me.”

Rule #2: Prove Your Value.

Once you and the customer are in agreement on what they want, how they want it, why they want it, it’s time to show them how you’ll give it to them.

Value is relative. The value of your proposal is always judged in relationship to the value offered by someone else.

You win a contract by convincing the customer that you’ll give them more of what they want and less of what they don’t want than the competition.

Rule #3: Show How You’re Different

Customers can often weed out proposals that fall short of what they’re looking for. But they sometimes struggle to choose between the top two contenders.

Your proposal and that of one other company may be similar in price and approach. Both of your companies may have comparable experience and capabilities.

A great way to make your company stand out is to talk about your differentiators or discriminators: things that make you different from the completion in a way that benefits the customer.

Those things may be your people (their experience, expertise, values), your processes (especially if they’re proprietary), or your tools and technology.

By following these three rules, you will make the best of your construction proposal interviews and presentations.

Check out What Is an Oral Proposal?

Photo courtesy of Adam. at

Whether you’re selling a service or a product. Whether you’re a solo entrepreneur (a coach, consultant, freelancer, sole proprietor) or a major corporation. You have to show the prospective client or customer why they should choose you.

One of the best ways to do so is to talk about differentiators or discriminators. (The terms are used pretty much interchangeably.)

I’ve written before about the benefits of selling a proposal by emphasizing what makes you and your approach different. (See Compete on Differentiators, not on Price or Quality.)

Now I’d like to define what I mean by a differentiator or discriminator, and to explain how best to create effective ones.

First, a definition of terms.

A differentiator or discriminator is 1) anything you are, have, do, or use that 2) differs from what the competition is, has, does, or uses, and 3) produces a benefit the customer wants.

There are four elements you need to explain, demonstrate, or prove:

1. What is it?

What exactly is the thing or attribute that makes you different?

It might be your people, their qualifications or expertise. Or your facilities. Or your processes. Or your tools and technologies.

Don’t assume that everyone understands what you’re talking about. Explain, define, or demonstrate it, if necessary.

2. How is it different?

Is it different in kind (it’s completely new and unlike anything else)? Or quality (it’s markedly different)? Or number (we have more of them than anyone else)?

3. How does it benefit the customer?

Just because it’s different doesn’t mean that it’s better or that the customer will want it. Show them how it will help them achieve, solve, improve, avoid, or fix something easier, faster, or cheaper.

4. How do you prove it?

Back up your assertions with third-party evidence or testimonials. Don’t say “we have a great reputation” when you can say “we’ve been awarded best small business in Charlotte for the past three years by the Chamber of Commerce.”

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