For 8 years I served in various roles in local government. Prior to that and before I attended college, I served in the US Army. The perspective I gained in those roles was tremendous. Never mind the fact that at age 18, I thought I knew it all and now God has blessed me with a ten year old mini-me.
Back to the subject matter, this article should be helpful for companies and consultants looking to do business with the government or with large institutions. Regardless of whether you are at the local level or at the state or Federal level, government bureaucrats are looking for credible companies that will deliver a home run for them in terms of product and service delivery and make the government bureaucrat look great. When a director or manager makes a recommendation to utilize the products or services of a company, they are essentially putting their credibility on the line; lowest price definitely doesn’t always get you there.
That said, the key to compiling an effective presentation in any situation is to know your audience. For example, I once sat in on an evaluation. It was a real estate evaluation. I was one of 6 or so evaluators. As I looked around the room I quickly realized that I was the only one with remotely any real estate experience. Interestingly enough and although I absolutely disagree with this, often times the evaluators in large institutions are not subject matter experts. In fact, if you walk in with a very technical analysis with a bunch of industry lingo you may very well “loose” your audience.
I have witnessed this in both public and private sector evaluations. To give the reader some perspective, and all due respect to the evaluators I have worked with or seen in action, they may be very bright, skilled and experienced in various fields, just not necessarily in the field in which they are conducting an evaluation.
Over the years, I became a sponge, observing various evaluations of different groups for varying products and services. Observing formal/oral presentations was an incredible education and very insightful on many levels. The local government I served was pretty diverse. That said, in one particular case where I sat in as an evaluator, when one group walked in with 5 or 6 “white” or “non-minority” men, I thought to myself, I bet these guys are D.O.A. After reviewing all of the binders, which was a daunting task in and of itself, I believed these guys had the best track record. Unfortunately, they were so focused on their impeccable track record, they neglected to focus on the big picture and showcasing their track record in an effective and meaningful way. Not only was their presentation very dry and not engaging, but it almost put the evaluators to sleep. Many of the respondents to RFP’s do not have an appreciation for how cumbersome, monotonous and grueling these evaluations tend to be. They compile so much detail and include information that is either immaterial or irrelevant in the evaluator’s decision making.